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Full text of "František Kupka, 1871-1957 : a retrospective, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York"

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Library and Archives 




A 1871-1957 


This project is supported by a grant from the National 
Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C., a Federal Agency 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

Published by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1975 
Library of Congress Card Catalogue Number: 75-27339 
© The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1975 
Printed in the United States 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation 

president Peter O. Lawson-Johnston 

trustees H. H. Arnason, Eleanor Countess Castle Stewart, Joseph W. Donner, 

Mason Welch Gross, Eugene W. Leake, Frank R. Milliken, Henry Allen Moe, 
A. Chauncey Newlin, Mrs. Henry Obre, Daniel Catton Rich, Albert E. 
Thiele, Michael F. Wettach. 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 

director Thomas M. Messer 

staff Henry Berg, Deputy Director 

Linda Konheim, Program Administrator; Agnes R. Connolly, Auditor; Susan 
L. Halper, Administrative Assistant; Eric Siegeltuch, Assistant for Management; 
Vanessa Jalet, Secretary to the Director; Darrie Hammer, Information. 

Louise Averill Svendsen, Curator; Diane Waldman, Curator of Exhibitions; Margit 
Rowell, Curator of Special Exhibitions; Angelica Zander Rudenstine, Research Curator; 
Linda Shearer, Assistant Curator; Carol Fuerstein, Editor; Mary Joan Hall, Librarian; 
Ward Jackson, Archivist; Karen Lee, Coordinator. 

Mimi Poser, Acting Public Affairs Officer; Miriam Emden, Members' Representative; 
Carolyn Porcelli, Coordinator. 

Orrin Riley, Conservator; Lucy Belloli, Assistant Conservator; David Roger Anthony, 
Registrar; Elizabeth M. Funghini, Cherie A. Summers, Assistant Registrars; Saul Fuerstein, 
Preparator; Robert E. Mates, Photographer; Dana Cranmer, Technical Manager. 

Peter G. Loggin, Building Superintendent; Guy Fletcher, Jr., Assistant Building 
Superintendent; Charles F. Banach, Head Guard. 

. 4 


List of Lenders to the Exhibition 

Preface and Acknowledgements by Thomas M. Messer 

Central European Influences by Meda Mladek 

The Search for Beautiful Form by Meda Mladek 

Metaphysical Questions by Meda Mladek 
Frantisek Kupka: A Metaphysics of Abstraction by Margit Rowell 
Catalogue of the Exhibition by Margit Rowell 
Chronology by Meda Mladek and Margit Rowell 
Selected Exhibitions 
Selected Bibliography 











Dr. Altmayer, Paris 

Lucy Delmarle 

Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Ethe 

Karl Flinker 

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew P. Fuller 

Gallien Family 

Peter Gimpel 

Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Gribin 

Wilhelm Hack, Cologne 

Joseph H. Hazen 

Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Liberman 

McCrory Corporation 

P. P., Paris 

Camille Renault, Paris 

Mr. and Mrs. Daniel G. Ross 

Mr. and Mrs. Arnold A. Saltzman, Great Neck, New York 

Nancy Schwartz 

Mr. and Mrs. G. E. S., New York 

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Randall Shapiro 

Theodoros Stamos 

Richard S. Zeisler, New York 

William Zierler 

The Cleveland Museum of Art 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 

Musee National d Art Moderne, Paris 

The Museum of Modern Art, New York 

Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna 

Narodni Galerie, Prague 

Philadelphia Museum of Art 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

Louis Carre et Cie 

Margit Chanin, Ltd. 

Royal S. Marks Gallery, New York 

Stephen Mazoh & Co., Inc. 

Galerie Denise Rene, Paris, New York 

Spencer A. Samuels and Company, Ltd. 


Frantisek Kupka has gained a secure place in the history of modern paint- 
ing, for he was among those very few authentic innovators who, early in the 
second decade of this century, dared to cross the threshold which at the time 
separated representational from non-objective painting. Like his fellow 
Slavs, Vasily Kandinsky and Kasimir Malevich, or the Frenchmen Robert 
Delaunay and Francis Picabia (Piet Mondrian and the Dutch Neo-Plastic 
movement came somewhat later), Kupka demonstrated that painting, like 
music, has a capacity to convey its meanings entirely through formal means. 
He supported this radical proposition with a prolific output that, again like 
Kandinsky's, ran its full course from illustration and representation through 
Fauvist attenuations and, from there, to organic and geometric abstraction. 
The creative impulses that motivated this Czech-born French emigre, the 
influences that may have shaped his style, whether derived from Eastern 
Slav, Central European Czech and Austrian, or finally from French sources, 
are the explicit subject matter of Kupka's retrospective exhibition at the 
Guggenheim Museum and that of this accompanying catalogue. Apart from 
the thought-provoking sequences and the supportive documentation that 
underlie this double-pronged venture, apart indeed from Kupka's well- 
founded claim to having originated fundamental stylistic departures, we are 
confronted in the current show with close to 200 paintings, watercolors, 
drawings and graphics of compelling visual power that may or may not 
coincide with moments of stylistic innovation. The tenuous and complex 
relationship between the new and the vital clearly mirrored in this show 
provides Kupka's oeuvre with its particular tension and significance. It 
affords to the viewer an often merging, sometimes parallel, twofold avenue 
that leads toward an understanding and enjoyment of Kupka's art. 

The organization of the current retrospective required an awareness of 
Kupka's composite nationality with all its implications, as well as a degree 
of familiarity with Czech and French sources, circumstances and with the 
location of works. The existing literature about Kupka, as well as the artist's 
own writings is primarily in Czech and French, while the German and Eng- 
lish bibliography, except for translations, remains marginal. Correspond- 
ingly, many of the most important loans were secured from European 
sources— Czechoslovakia and France above all — before we approached 
other continental countries and the still limited group of American lenders 
who have acquired paintings and works on paper of primary importance. 
On both sides of the Atlantic, the response of museums, collectors and 
galleries was exemplary, and our gratitude toward those cited in this cata- 
logue's list of lenders (as well as toward others who have chosen to remain 
anonymous) is correspondingly great. 

The Guggenheim's deepest indebtedness, acknowledged here in behalf of 
the large public for whom this exhibition is created, must go to the Narodnf 
Galerie in Prague and to its director, Professor Dr. Jin Kotalik. The com- 
prehensive survey of Frantisek Kupka's life work could not have been ar- 
ranged without the massive loan of almost thirty works from this particular 
source. We are as indebted to the Musee National d'Art Moderne in Paris, 
the other largest repository of Kupka's oeuvre. Without the generous com- 
mitment of Dominique Bozo, then Acting Director of the Collections, for a 
loan enacted by Pontus Hulten and Germain Viatte, this exhibition could 
not take place. 

It should also be stressed that this retrospective could be selected and 
presented only after exhaustive preparation which depended upon the par- 
ticipation of extraordinarily talented and qualified individuals within and 
outside of the Guggenheim Museum. Neither Margit Rowell, the Guggen- 
heim's Curator of Special Exhibitions, nor Meda Mladek, who was asked to 
be a Consultant, could have achieved the result as it stands without the com- 
plementary capacities of the other. Miss Rowell, as curator of the exhibi- 
tion, brought to the task of selection and presentation her penetrating and 
original research and tested knowledge of exhibitions as well as her wide 
experience with technical aspects of exhibition and catalogue production. 
Mrs. Mladek's deep involvement with Kupka's entire oeuvre, one that goes 
back to the artist's lifetime, her rich store of painstakingly gathered infor- 
mation, and her command of the Czech language were an extremely impor- 
tant factor in the successful completion of both catalogue and exhibition. 
Miss Rowell and Mrs. Mladek have also made valuable contributions in 
their respective and highly personal essays. 

Throughout the preparatory phase, other Kupka specialists, aware of 
crucial art historical issues that still surround his problematical art, joined 
in an extended de facto symposium thereby adding new information. Kupka 
experts who have provided us with extraordinary assistance are Denise 
Fedit and Ludmila Vachtova. The scholars Lilli Lonngren, Virginia Spate 
and Yvonne Hagen, as well as the museum officials, Jin Kotalik and Domi- 
nique Bozo, and the gallery directors, Louis Carre (aided by Mme. Diane 
Foy) and Karl Flinker have also helped us greatly. Special gratitude is also 


due the artist's stepdaughter Mme. Andree Martinel-Kupka who has en- 
couraged and aided the Guggenheim's efforts from the outset. Finally, the 
patient efforts of the Guggenheim's staff require grateful acknowledgement 
although they must necessarily remain largely anonymous. Among those 
who may be named in this context besides Margit Rowell, the sustained and 
effective work of her assistant Karen Lee and the Museum's editor, Carol 
Fuerstein, call for prominent mention and special gratitude. 

The Frantisek Kupka presentation at the Guggenheim will be followed 
early in 1976 by a single European showing at the Kunsthaus Zurich. We 
therefore salute Dr. R. Wehrli and Dr. Felix A. Baumann, respectively the 
departing and the incoming directors of this institution, who have both 
given us their generous professional help and cooperation. 

The mounting costs that have become part of our daily lives have reached 
and limited museums in many areas of their functioning. The programming 
of ambitious shows and the publication of valuable catalogues have suffered 
more than other museum activities from these inhibiting factors. Therefore, 
the aid extended to museums throughout the country by the National En- 
dowment for the Arts assumes crucial significance as it fills otherwise insur- 
mountable financial gaps. The Frantisek Kupka retrospective depended to 
an important degree upon National Endowment funding which is acknowl- 
edged here with every gratitude on behalf of the trustees and the staff of The 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

Because of increasing difficulties of every kind and description that are 
now inherent in the organization of major modern exhibitions, it is safe to 
predict that a long time, probably decades, will pass before a comparable 
effort can be extended on behalf of Frantisek Kupka's work by any New 
York museum. It is our sincere hope therefore that this full review of the 
Czech master's central contribution to modern art will result in the desired 
benefits for scholars and the public at large. 


The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 


Meda Mladek 

i Bernard Dorival, Kupka, Paris, 
Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
1966, p. 11. 

2 Denise Fedit, Ibid., p. 2.7. 

3 Ibid., p. 34. 

In 19 1 2, at the Salon d' Automne in Paris, Frantisek Kupka exhibited what 
he called "his painter's credo," Amorpha, Fugue and Warm Chromatics. 
French critics were indignant, enraged. Almost unanimously they rejected 
the paintings, mainly because they were incompatible with French tradition 
and taste. Protests against the barbaric invasion of the Paris art scene by 
Slavs and Americans reached the steps of the French Parliament. 

In 1966, however, the Musee National d'Art Moderne in Paris organized 
a one-man show of Kupka's works. The French catalogue indicated that, 
without question, Kupka had by now been accepted into the Paris school. 
In it Bernard Dorival states that: "Kupka, already awakened by a few 
French Realist and Impressionist paintings shown in Bohemia, passed 
through the stage of Art Nouveau, which he discovered in Paris and not in 
Vienna, as has often been written, hesitated between a docile symbolism 
and the lesson given by Odilon Redon, traversed the expressionism of 
Toulouse-Lautrec and Fauvism, was influenced by the praxinoscope of 
Reynaud and chronophotography of Marey. . . ."' Denise Fedit, in the same 
catalogue, insists that: "Kupka could not bring to light his essentially orig- 
inal creations without the French contribution, which taught him that a 
pictorial work lacks value if it does not observe certain laws. . . . His en- 
counter with the French painters, Realist and Impressionist, opened new 
horizons before his eyes. From then on he wished to handle familiar themes 
as they did. . . ." 2 The only credit ascribed to Prague is the academic train- 
ing which gave Kupka "excellence in drawing" and "the metaphysical and 
occultist anxieties" 3 which the painter presumably brought from his coun- 
try of origin. Vienna's influence is dismissed altogether for a rather surpris- 
ing reason: "Kupka, as a good Czech hostile to Germanism, could not allow 


himself to be influenced by the intellectual or spiritual manifestations that 
he noted there.'" 1 An obvious question comes to mind. Who was right in 
interpreting the art of Kupka? The French critics of 1912 who thought it 
outrageously alien to their Latin taste and tradition, or the critics of 1966 
who thought that it was essentially a product of French influence? This 
question is important not because of any intrinsic significance of the 1966 
catalogue, but because the thesis of its authors has been docilely adopted 
by many writers on Kupka, including several Czech art historians. 

Fourteen years had elapsed between Kupka's arrival in Paris in 1896 and 
the time he began to work on his "painter's credo," Amorpba, Fugue and 
Warm Chromatics. The temptation to conclude that these fourteen years 
were fully responsible for Kupka's discovery of non-objective art proved 
irresistible to French art-historians when, after some fifty years, they under- 
stood and recognized the significance of his work, and he was explained as 
a product of French formalistic evolution. However, what was not consid- 
ered was that Kupka had reached Paris after many years of deep involve- 
ment with art and art philosophy. Nor was it considered that the famous 
"law" 5 to which Denise Fedit refers must have been known to Kupka before 
his arrival in Paris. He had spent six years at the Academies of Prague and 
Vienna, where this theory was expounded by the Nazarenes. It was through 
the application of this law that he was guided into abstraction. 

Neither was it considered that Kupka's Symbolist art could have had its 
origin elsewhere than in Paris. By 1966 it was generally accepted that Sym- 
bolism, like Impressionism, was born in France. "Let us repeat it: born in 
France," 6 and that the Manifesto, 7 from which Symbolism supposedly orig- 
inated, reached Germany via a circuitous route through Belgium only ten 
years later— that is in 1896 when Kupka was already in Paris. New trends 
in the history of art suggest that Impressionism is not the source of Sym- 
bolism, and that German Symbolism had existed independently since the 
beginning of the nineteenth century. Indeed, the Nazarenes were Symbol- 
ists. By 1967, Werner Hofmann, in his introduction to the catalogue of 
Kupka's exhibition at the Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts in Vienna recog- 
nized as I do, that Kupka gained from his immigration to Paris in several 
respects, but he also made it clear that Kupka might have reached the ab- 
stract phase of his development years earlier than he actually did, had he 
remained in Vienna. 

It seems appropriate to investigate Kupka's formative years spent in Bo- 
hemia and in Vienna in order to probe the various degrees to which he was 
influenced by Central European thought and culture. These influences have 
not been taken into account by French critics since little of Kupka's back- 
ground is known in France. 


While Kupka' artistic education and intellectual environment in Prague and 
Vienna are crucial determinants of his concepts, knowledge of his child- 
hood also throws light on his personality. 

The land around Opocno and Jaromer in eastern Bohemia, where Kupka 
spent his boyhood, preserved a high concentration of Baroque monuments 

4 Dorival, Ibid. 

5 The "law" was formulated in 
France by Maurice Denis in the 
1890's precisely as an antithesis to 
the Realist and the Impressionist 
doctrines. "We must repudiate this 
academic naturalism, insisting that 
one should paint what one sees. . . . 
we must repudiate the realism of 
Impressionism whose purpose still 
is to imitate nature. . . . Realism, one 
of the errors which we encounter 
invariably during the worst epochs 
of art, at times of decadence and 
sterility. ... It should be remem- 
bered that a picture ... is essentially 
a flat surface covered with colors 
which are assembled in a certain or- 
der." Published in Art et Critique, 
August 13, 1890. 

6 Jean Cassou in Les Sources du 
vingtieme siecle, Paris, 1961, p. 54. 
Cassou was director of the Musee 
National d'Art Moderne in Paris, 
and professor of nineteenth and 
twentieth-century art at the Ecole 
du Louvre. He is also the author of 
many texts on modern art and his 
views have exercised considerable 
influence in France. 

7 Jean Moreas, "Un Manifeste lit- 
teraire, 1886," in Guy Michaud, La 
Doctrine symboliste, Paris, 1947, p. 



and art, in which the boy showed an early and lively interest. Yet, the area 
was one of the poorest in Bohemia, and Kupka's father, although a munici- 
pal official, could not afford to send his children to high school, not even 
the most talented child, Frank. In accordance with his father's decision, he 
was apprenticed in a local saddler's workshop to learn a craft he quickly 
grew to hate. Having missed secondary school, Kupka could not enroll in a 
university to study the two subjects in which he was most deeply interested 
—philosophy and history. His lack of a formal education— except for paint- 
ing—was a source of anguish and humiliation, and it led to tremendous 
efforts at self-education on his part, especially during his stay in Vienna. It 
also led to a continuous search for the company of learned and intellec- 
tually prominent men. 

The family climate surrounding Kupka's boyhood Was not happy. He 
lost his mother at a young age, and his stepmother showed little under- 
standing for his first attempts to draw and paint. The boy withdrew into 
himself and developed a strong tendency to indulge in dreams. He lived, 
indeed, two lives, one based on reality, the other on fantasy. This tendency 
seems to have been strengthened by his early encounter with spiritualism. 
The saddler to whom Kupka was apprenticed was a well known spiritualist 
and head of a secret sect. He held regular seances at his house, to which he 
brought the supersensitive boy, and it was not long before Kupka became 
a much appreciated medium. 

Prague, the old city celebrated by Apollinaire, the city which inspired 
Franz Kafka's writings and deeply impressed Andre Breton, was also des- 
tined to leave strong impressions on young Kupka. It stirred his imagina- 
tion, but it also confirmed his inclination toward daydreaming, despite the 
fact that his dreams were constantly shattered by the poverty in which he 
lived and by his growing disappointment with the social order. In Prague, 
Kupka indulged again in spiritualism, which, at least, had a practical re- 
ward—he earned money as a successful medium. But it also had a serious 
effect on his mental stability, and he suffered several breakdowns. For the 
rest of his life, he was subject to depressions which robbed him of much of 
his vitality. 

The factors that directly influenced Kupka's artistic orientation are, in 
order of time, if not of importance: his involvement with folk art; his pro- 
fessional training and education in Bohemia which steeped him in the Naz- 
arene tradition; his preoccupation with two particular Czech painters, Josef 
Manes (1820-1871) and Mikulas Ales (1852-1913) who were educated in 
Nazarenism and influenced strongly by folk art and music; his contact with 
the Viennese intellectual and artistic milieu which deepened his inherent 
tendencies, stimulated his talents and determined his future choices. 

Kupka first encountered folk art in his early youth, when as a journey- 
man saddler, he wandered to Domazlice in south Bohemia, a region well 
known for its rich folklore. He spent six months there. Many pages in his 
diary, written at that time, are covered with drawings of folk costumes of 
the same type as those used by Ales. Both artists were more interested in the 
decorative details that in the costumes and figures themselves. At that time, 
it was not yet a matter of Kupka's being inspired by Ales, but rather of an 











Vj ^i 

VII b 

IV b Vb Vlb VII < 


fig. I 

Studnicka, Exercises: circles and spirals 

from Cesky Kreslif, 1885-88. 

fig. 2 

Decorating a Czechoslovakian country 



fig- 3 

Kupka, Study for Quatre bistoires de 

blanc et noir, 1925, gouache and india 


8 Letter to Machar, January 2, 1902 

9 Cesky Kreslir, Jr. 2, no. 4, p. 13. 

interest that the two painters, brought up in the same environment, had in 

When Kupka was seventeen, he received his first professional artistic 
education at the Crafts School in Jaromer. Its director and Kupka's pro- 
fessor, Alois Studnicka (1842-1927), was a prominent teacher of drawing, 
a well-known connoisseur of folk art, a specialist in ornamentation and a 
defender of the ornamental abstract concept. He was also an admirer of 
the great Czech painters of the Nazarene school. Kupka emphasized his 
gratitude to Studnicka throughout his life, crediting him with having given 
him a solid foundation in drawing and introducing him to Manes. 8 From a 
professional review called Cesky Kreslir [Czech Draftsman], which Stud- 
nicka published for three years (1885-1888) for drawing teachers, we may 
detect elements of his long-forgotten didactic method, very different from 
that of the Academy where students had to copy from a model. Studnicka's 
students were trained to draw simple and complicated geometric lines, 
spirals, ovals, circles and curves. "There is no other way to see better the 
unskillfulness of a draftsman than in the drawing of a circle" was a leitmotif 
of his teaching. 9 He taught his students his own method of drawing these 
basic elementary forms and curves until they reached perfection. He insis- 
ted that they draw curves in one continuous line. Lines made out of small 
strokes he rejected, as did his teachers the Nazarenes. Studnicka's students 
also had to learn how to use color in ornamentation. They had to study not 
only Newton's color theory but also those of Dr. Wilhelm Bezold (Die 
Farbenlebre), Quido Schreiber (Die Farbenlebre) and Rudolf Adams (Die 
Farbenharmonie). Thus the ornamentation that Kupka had first observed 
as a young journeyman he now studied professionally. He learned about 

• • • • • 

• • • • • 

• • • • • 

• • • • • 

• • • • • 

• • • • I 

► • • • • 

• • • • • •JML«ML< 

• • • •*• • • • 

. .;. . .;. . 
•> • V * V 

10 ' 

-i. ••• -:• .•• .;■ 
••• ••• ■•• 

• •■ ... ■•■ *•. 

'* /X***/x ** /x "* 

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• ••••••• • • •_•„• •_•••• 

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fig- 4 

Studnicka, Ornamental studies derived 

from dots, Cesky Kreslif, 1885-88. 

fig- 5 

Decorated Czechoslovakian country 


fig. 6 

Kupka, Study for Quatre histoires de 

blanc et noir, 1915, gouache and india 


10 Tvoreni v umeni vytvarnem, 
Prague, 1923, p. 97. 

11 Cesky Kreslif, Jr. 1, no. 2, p. 30. 

ornament of different periods and cultures, especially that of Islam which 
influenced Czech and Slovak folkloric motifs. Kupka's diary reveals his 
deep interest in ornamentation. In it he copied verbatim pages from Cesky 
Kreslir about color mixtures. He also specifically noted two books, widely 
discussed in the review, Dr. Ernest Brucke's Die Psychologie der Farben 
(Leipzig, 1866) and A. Andel's Das Polychrome Flachenornament (Vienna, 
1880). In Brucke's book, Kupka learned, probably for the first time, about 
the invented colors of oriental art, particularly that of Moorish Spain, 
which Brucke considered superior to all others. In his study, Brucke rejects 
the inspiration of colors from nature, which affect us more by virtue of 
association than by the perfection of harmony between color and form, 
and advocates that the artist use invented colors in decorative paintings. 

Kupka never ceased to be interested in the psychology of color, eventu- 
ally devoting a great part of his research to it. In his book Tvoreni v 
Umeni Vytvarnem [Creation in Plastic Art], published in 1923 in Prague, 
he developed a theory very similar to that of Brucke in a chapter entitled 
"Meaning and Feeling of Color." "The aesthetic of color in art is not the 
same in nature, they differ substantially" 1 " wrote Kupka. 

Even more important for Kupka than theories of color and ornament 
must have been Studnicka's rejection of realism. "Whenever natural forms 
were imitated, art was in decadence or at a very low level of development. 
Yet an artist must not violate nature by using shapes which are truly oppo- 
site of nature. Unnatural shapes cannot be satisfactory, as the eye imme- 
diately recognizes their impossibility and incompatibility. A real artist 
should collect all beautiful elements he finds in particular forms of the same 
kind and fuse them into one sole shape." 11 Although Studnicka's conception 


of abstract art was probably quite remote from Kupka's "painter's credo" of 
191Z, Kupka's painstaking effort to realize the Amorpha, Fugue is reminis- 
cent of his teacher's advice. 

Kupka's Nazarene education at the Prague Academy has generally gone 
unnoticed and yet the Nazarenes 12 played a decisive role in the formation 
of modern Czech art in general and of Kupka's art in particular. The orig- 
inal Nazarenes advocated the return of painting to the spiritual orientation 
of the late Middle Ages in Germany. Contemplation remained the main 
source of creative art for their followers. Poetic and philosophical thought 
was the real subject matter of art. They believed that "all beauty is allegory. 
Because they are inexpressible, the highest things can only be said allegor- 
ically." 13 The Nazarenes wanted to produce with their paintings an effect 
parallel to that of church music or religious songs. As the effect often had 
to appeal from a great distance, they realized that they must revive mon- 
umental art, namely fresco painting. This in turn, led them to adopt a par- 
ticular style, and a fine, simplified, melodic and decorative linear technique 
became their hallmark. They realized that if they wanted to disseminate 
their ideas rapidly, they must reorganize the teaching system, and this led 
to the establishment of "master classes," consisting of a very few particu- 
larly gifted students, who were able "to keep their natural, unaffected, freely 
developed individualism and independence." 1 ' 8 

Among the followers of the original Nazarene group which moved from 
Vienna to Rome in 18 10 were painters from Prague, all of whom would 
eventually exercise an important role in the development of painting in 
Prague and Vienna. Kupka's professor in Prague, Frantisek Sequens (1836- 
1896), spent five years at the Munich Academy before he became director 
of the Academy in Prague. He seems to have followed the usual pedagog- 
ical method; strict initial training in drawing, geometry and perspective the 
first year; drawing from life models, composition and introduction to paint- 
ing in the second; in the third, students chose a direction according to their 
talent. The very talented students were accepted into the "master class," 
where they drew cartoons for Sequens' murals and stained glass windows 
in Bohemian churches, but they also painted independently. Kupka's Czech 
biographers describe in some detail how poor Kupka suffered under the 
exacting and allegedly uncongenial teacher— a Nazarene who "kept forcing 
him to draw plaster copies of sculptures and cartoons for murals, while the 
young man, enamoured of the Baroque sculpture of his native land, longed 
for Manes." 15 

Indeed, Kupka may well have "suffered" under Sequens, but evidently 
not enough to choose to leave his teacher for one of the alternative schools 
then flourishing in Prague. When Kupka came to Prague in 1888 there were 
three independent schools at the Academy: the school of religious painting, 
headed by the Nazarene Sequens; an important landscape school, led by a 
disciple of the Barbizon School who conducted his classes in the open air 
and enjoyed great popularity; and the equally popular school of genre 
painting. Students were encouraged to switch direction in any year, to "find 
a professor whose style expresses their own artistic talents." 16 This raises 
an interesting question: Why did Kupka stay with Sequens during all his 

12 In 1809, a group of painters 
founded, at the Vienna Academy, a 
brotherhood modeled on the medi- 
eval Bruderschaften. After moving 
to Italy, they became known as the 
Nazarenes. In about the middle of 
the century, the Nazarenes occupied 
nearly all the important German and 
Central European academies and 
exercised a great influence over the 
development of art in that part of 
the world. Of particular interest is 
the Academy in Munich where Peter 
von Cornelius (1783-1867) was di- 
rector from 1825. (His student P. 
Lenz became director of the famous 
Benedictine school of Beuron, where 
Paul Serusier learned about the use 
of the Golden Section and brought 
it to Paris in 1897.) During his lead- 
ership, the influence of the Munich 
Academy became so important and 
the style of its painters so distinct 
that the members soon became 
known as the "Munich School," 
whose impact can be likened to that 
of the Ecole de Paris in the twentieth 
century. Another recognized center 
was Dusseldorf under the director- 
ship of Wilhelm Schadow (1788- 
1861). But, whereas Cornelius in 
Munich accepted only the grand 
style of primarily monumental but 
always simplified and idealized 
forms, Schadow eventually allowed 
the introduction into Nazarene art 
of small sentimental paintings, 
which originated in the genre art of 
France and Holland. 

13 Peter von Cornelius quoted in Fritz 
Novotny, Painting and Sculpture in 
Europe: 1780-1SS0, Baltimore, i960, 
p. 68. 

14 A. Kuhn, Peter v. Cornelius, Berlin, 
1921, p. 151. 

15 Emmanuel Siblik, Frantisek Kupka, 
Prague, 1928, p. 5. 

16 Almanac of the Prague Academy, 
Prague, 1926, p. 46. 

fig- 7 

Manes, Detail from Rukopis 

Krdlovehradecky [Manuscript], Prague, 


fig. 8 

Ales, Ornamental border for poem, 
"Zaboj" from Rukopis Krdlovehradecky, 
[Manuscript], Prague, 1884. 

17 Josef Manes, Prague, Narodni Gal- 
erie, 1971, exhibition catalogue. 

18 Letter to Machar, January 2, 1902. 

four years at the academy, when he could have turned, for example, to the 
flourishing modern landscape school? The obvious answer is that Kupka 
had a deeper affinity for Nazarenism and found little attraction in landscape 
painting. There is no complaint in his diary, where we find a note of June 
15, 1889: "In the lap of good fortune, I am in the Academy of Painters in 
Prague!" The diary further shows that he studied Italian in preparation for 
a future in Rome, the dream of every Nazarene. In his short autobiography 
of 1902, despite a few condescending remarks about the Academy, he re- 
cords: "Every year I won school prizes and was presented as an example 
of diligence to the other students at the Academy. The director had a great 
liking for my compositions in Manes' style." This quotation reveals beyond 
any doubt that Sequens let his pupil follow the example of his idol Manes. 

A powerful and lasting, influence on Kupka's life and art was Josef 
Manes. He died the year Kupka was born. Manes had studied at the Prague 
Academy for many years with an original Nazarene, and spent three years 
in Munich. During his stay in the Bavarian capital, Hegelian nationalism 
was quickly gaining ground in Germany, and Manes soon returned to 
Prague to stress the validity of a Czech culture less dependent on foreign 
patterns. As a result of his new-found purpose, Manes made many trips 
into the countryside to study the people and their art. These trips provided 
him with an experience that would have lasting consequences on his style. 
In 1971 Jin Kotalfk reevaluated Manes' work on the occasion of an exhibi- 
tion at the Narodni Galerie in Prague. 17 He stresses the romantic substance 
of Manes' contribution, which finds its most remarkable expression in his 
symbolism. Manes personifies the ideals of Nazarenism by his stress on 
composition based on melodical line and by his "global and metaphorical 
perception of nature and its poetic interpretation." Kupka's admiration for 
Manes, dating back to his early years, continued throughout his life. After 
six years of experience in France, he still believed in Manes' approach to 
art: "Professor Studnicka revealed Manes to me, and when he was bidding 
me farewell he urged me to seek in Manes all an artist can express. His 
words fell on fertile soil. Manes impressed and moved me powerfully and 
fatefully." 18 Kupka treasured Manes' illustrations for a collection of old 
Czech poems entitled Manuscripts, and Manes' photograph hung on his 
studio wall until the end of his life. 

Manes' most prominent follower was Mikulas Ales whose art further 
influenced Kupka. Ales popularized the Manesian concept. He had a gen- 
uine decorative talent which the Nazarene's reverence for Diirer could only 
strengthen. He believed that he could express his ideas only by monumen- 
tal art. A painter of robust and powerful talent, reminiscent of Delacroix 
in his warmth of color and direct expressiveness, he abandoned paintings 
on canvas and turned to the preparation of monumental frescoes. His sur- 
viving cartoons show him at work on flat surfaces, evidencing his under- 
standing of the use of surface in architecture. Even more than Manes, he 
stressed the globality and integration of vision in symbols. Regrettably, his 
two-dimensionally conceived pieces ran up against the local taste of that 
time. Ales sought consolation in communion with folk art and was seduced 
by its rhythm and melody. He went beyond Manes' style in emphasis upon 


ornament, integrating figures and all other elements into ornamental space, 
in opposition to the prevailing taste for realism. Ales showed his generation 
the beauty, melodiousness, harmony and symbolism of folk art ornamenta- 
tion. The strongest manifestation of his interest in folk art was in his exten- 
sive illustrations of Czech folk songs. His decorative paintings for the 
exterior and interior of buildings and on furniture demonstrate his disre- 
gard for the strict division between high and applied art, and represent an 
early expression of the Czech Secession. In the years Kupka spent at the 
Czech Academy, Ales lived in Prague, rediscovered and celebrated by a 
younger generation of painters. We do not know if Kupka knew Ales per- 
sonally, but it is not unlikely that he did. Kupka's close friends, Siblik 19 and 
Ji'ra 20 confirm his great admiration for Ales' work. Kupka's encounter with 
Ales' illustrations for folk songs was important. These illustrations repre- 
sent a masterful synthesis of the musical and the pictorial and found their 
echo in Kupka's later desire to fuse painting with music. 

During Kupka's study at the Prague Academy, the year 1891 was par- 
ticularly significant in Czech art because of the Jubilee Exhibition. This 
soon revealed itself as a manifestation of Czech cultural independence. On 
this occasion a number of aspects of Czech creativity were exhibited simul- 
taneously. The "out-of-date" school of the Nazarenes was prominently 
represented. The modern trend of realistic and genre painting was shown in 
a separate exhibit, and, for the first time, genuine examples of Czech folk 
art were prominently featured. In addition, another group of paintings, 
"the first result of a great effort to find a new, genuinely Czech style" 21 was 
recognized as what we call today the style of the Czech Secession. This ex- 
hibition was the best possible opportunity for Kupka to observe opposite 
trends: the realism of Dusseldorf and France and the idealism of the 
Nazarenes. Nowhere could he better understand the ornamental, melodic 
and symbolic art of the Czech Secession than when juxtaposed with its 
original sources, the Nazarenes and Czech folk art. And it may have been 
here that he made his choice. His feeling for Manes deepened and he spent 
that summer in Valassko, eastern Moravia, a region rich in folk art, in order 
to "immerse himself in the vital source of folk art, following Manes' ex- 
ample." 22 Back in Prague in the fall of 1891, he was accepted in the master 
class of Sequens and painted compositions in the style of Manes and Ales 
and under the influence of folk art. Before entering the Vienna Academy in 
the autumn of 1892 he spent his last vacation near Znojmo in southern 
Moravia, another district steeped in the tradition of folk art. Unfortunately, 
none of Kupka's paintings created during this period, when he was most 
directly stimulated by Manes, Ales and folk art, have so far been recovered 
and we have only sparse information about them. In 1900 Kupka sent some 
drawings to a Prague review, Zlatd Praha, which he described as an orna- 
mental head for which he used motifs from Czech folk art. In 1901 he wrote 
in a letter to Machar from a region in the mountains of Slovenia that he 
was no longer interested in painting peasants in the national costumes they 
were still wearing in that region. But he added a significant statement: 
"Maybe I will paint them again, but not the way it has been done to date." 23 
And indeed, the melodic new visions of Kupka's dancing girls in Amorpba, 

19 Siblik, Kupka, p. 7. 

20 Jaroslav Ji'ra [Frant. Kupka as Artist 
and as Man], Ndrodni Osvobozeni, 
no. 261, Prague, 1931, pp. i-z. 

21 Zlatd Praha, Prague, 1891; reprinted 
in Dilo, Prague, 1903, p. 102. 

22 Siblik, Kupka, p. 8. It is not without 
interest that two of the most impor- 
tant artists of the Viennese Seces- 
sion, the painter Adolf Hoelzel 
(1853-1934) and the architect Josef 
Hoffmann (1870-1956) were born 
and spent their childhoods in the 
same region. 

23 September 13, 1901. 

Fugue, and Lines, Planes, Spaces could not have been possible without 
Kupka's "concealed recollection" which Carl Jung describes as : "A musi- 
cian who has heard a peasant tune or popular song in childhood . . . finds it 
cropping up as the theme of a symphonic movement that he is composing in 
adult life. An idea or an image has moved back from the subconscious into 
the conscious mind." 24 

24 Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols, 
New York, 1964, p. 37. 

25 In later years Kupka always referred 
to these earnings from his activities 
as a medium as coming from lessons 
given in religion. 

26 This painting was made purely for 
financial reasons and was repeat- 
edly condemned by Kupka in later 

27 Karl Kraus, Die Fackel, Vienna, no. 
400, 1914, p. 2. 

28 Alois Riegl, Stilfragen: Grundlegun- 
gen zu einer Geschichte der Orna- 
mentik, Berlin, 1893. Wilhelm Wor- 
ringer (1881-1928) built his own 
thesis as published in Abstraktion 
und Einfiihlung, Munich, 1908, on 
the foundation of Riegl's theories. 
Worringer compared abstraction 
and naturalism and recognized ab- 
straction as an essential formulative 
principle of art. See also T. Lipps, 
Aesthetik, Hamburg, 1903-06. Lipps 
was Worringer's teacher at the Uni- 
versity of Munich. 


With the single exception of Werner Hofmann cited above, art historians 
either completely overlook Kupka's four years in Vienna, or, at most, 
downgrade their importance. But, thanks to records preserved at the 
Academy and to the letters written by Kupka between 1894 and 1914 to his 
friends, especially Arthur Roessler, his time in the Austrian capital can 
now be reliably reconstructed. The importance of Kupka's stay in Vienna 
rests not so much on the advancement of his painting technique as on his 
exposure to the ideas which were current in Vienna at that particular time. 
These were strongly formative years for Kupka's personal philosophy and 
for his concept of art. 

Kupka came to Vienna in the summer of 1892, when he was twenty-one. 
He was accepted directly into the master class of Professor A. Eisenmenger 
(1830-1907), a Nazarene and a specialist in fresco painting. As in Prague, 
Kupka took no notice of the very successful schools of landscape and genre 
painting. As in Prague, Kupka was obliged to support himself and, in order 
to earn money, he seems to have served again as a medium in spiritualist 
seances. 25 But he was unable to pay for the master class and during the 
second semester was struck from the register of the Academy "for inability 
to pay." He was readmitted, however, and relieved of the school fee during 
the third semester. Although he did not receive the Rome Prize, which he 
always claimed he had been promised, he was instead awarded a special 
prize of two hundred florins from the Academy exhibition fund. In a state 
of terrible disappointment he announced his withdrawal from the Academy 
on December 2.0, 1893 and began to paint his colossal work The Last Dream 
of the Dying Heine, commissioned by the Viennese Kunstverein. 26 

Vienna, the capital of the monarchy, City of Dreams, and the "Proving- 
Ground for World Destruction," 27 was, at that time, a very busy cultural 
center. It is surely not a coincidence that modern architecture, abstract 
painting, legal and logical positivism, the beginning of twelve tone music, 
psychoanalysis and art history were all in simultaneous evidence in Vienna 
around the turn of the century. In the field of the fine arts, Alois Riegl (1858- 
1905), professor of art history in Vienna during the period of Kupka's study, 
published his Stilfragen, 1 * in which he recorded his opposition to Gottfried 
Semper's materialistic dictum that form follows function and recognized 
that the fundamental intent of a work of art is to give form to the inner 
life of man. He saw ornament as the purest and most lucid expression of 
artistic volition. Kupka would, at a later date, emphasize again and again, 
in his book, in his articles and in interviews, his concept and belief that "it 
is necessary for an artist to seek and find a means by which he may express 
the material likeness of all movements and states of his inner life and 


through which he may capture all abstractions" 29 and that "ornament 
should be revived." 30 

It was Otto Wagner (1841-1918), the famous Viennese architect, who 
became a defender of simple geometric structure. In an inaugural lecture at 
the Viennese Academy in 1894 he argued that "what is practical may also 
be beautiful," as against the German Jugendstil thesis that "what is beau- 
tiful can if necessary also be practical." His lecture as well as his book 31 
were very successful. Many talented students at the Academy became 
Wagner's followers and, later, the creators of a new architecture and 
decorative style called Viennese Secession. Arguments for and against orna- 
mentation soon began to excite Viennese artistic circles. 

At about the same time, Viennese poets and intellectuals became con- 
scious of the limitations of language. The young poet, Hugo von Hofmann- 
sthal (1874-1924) and the Bohemian-born critic and philosopher, Fritz 
Mauthner (1894-1923) 32 were highly skeptical about the range of thoughts 
and feelings susceptible to communication by words. Kupka would later 
reach the same conclusion about painting: "Because no two people have the 
same intellect and senses, we cannot find the truth in representing things 
as we see them; they will always be distorted." 33 

Kupka's compatriot, Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904), professor of music 
at the University of Vienna, maintained in his much debated book Von 
Miisikaliscb Schonem^ that beauty was entirely self-contained and rejected 
literary ideas as subjects for musical composition. According to Hanslick, 
music was essentially "logic of sound in motion . . . The important law is 
the primordial law of harmonic progression by means of which themes are 
developed and transformed."" Around 1909 Kupka made a series of pastels 
and drawings depicting progression of movement according to the laws of 
music which seemed to him to be applicable to painting. 

Kupka participated very actively in the intellectual ferment of Vienna. 
His Czech friend Milos Meixner, with whom he shared an apartment for 
two years, was educated in philosophy. The two young men spent much of 
their time together in feverish reading and discussion. As Kupka wrote, 
"Days, evenings, nights we spent together in turning the world upside down 
and I started to make up for what I had missed in my education. My studio 
was a meeting place of many German intellectuals and I tried to penetrate 
Kant's metaphysical knots." 36 

Kupka's interest in spiritualism and esoterica brought him into contact 
with Austrian and German Theosophists. Theosophy at that time was for 
Kupka an ideal practical philosophy that helped him to deepen his knowl- 
edge, brought him into contact with Eastern philosophy and sustained him 
in the belief that life never dies. He was familiar with the writings of Para- 
celsus and Calvin and studied many philosophers from Plato to Nietzsche. 
Eastern philosophy only reaffirmed the Nazarene doctrine of contempla- 
tion as a source of artistic inspiration. However, as a painter, he emphasized 
the need for communicating experience to others. "Contemplation is a 
virtue if we recognize the truth but it becomes a vice if we don't commu- 
nicate it to others." 37 

29 Tvofeni v umeni vytvarnem, p. 123. 

30 Notes for Tvofeni v umeni 

31 Otto Wagner, Moderne Architektur, 
Berlin, 1896. 

32 Fritz Mauthner, Beitrage zu einer 
Kritik der Sprache, 3 vols., Stutt- 
gart, 1901-03, vol. 1, p. III. 

33 Tvofeni v umeni vytvarnem, p. 42. 

34 Eduard Hanslick, Won Musikalisch 
Scbonem, Leipzig, 1854. This book 
was so popular that by 1910 there 
had been eighteen editions. Hans- 
lick returned from the University in 
1895 but continued to write for the 
Nene Freie Presse in Vienna. 

35 Eduard Hanslick, The Beautiful in 
Music, Indianapolis and New York, 
1957, p. 51. English translation by 
Gustav Cohen. 

36 Letter to Machar, January 2, 1902. 

37 Letter to a sect brother, December 
8, 1894. Collection Wiener 
Stadtbibliothek, Vienna. 


38 Ibid. 

39 Karl Diefenbach, Ein Beitrag zur 
Geschichte der Zeitgenossichen 
KitHStpflege, Vienna, 1895. 

In 1894 Theosophy brought Kupka into contact with the Nazarene artist 
Karl Diefenbach (1851-?), a somewhat extravagant and extremely contro- 
versial painter and philosopher who was called everything from "Kohlrabi 
Apostle" and swindler to "pioneer of a New Age." Diefenbach came to 
Vienna from Munich in 189Z, the same year as Kupka. He believed that 
most contemporary human behavior and its resultant social conditions 
were contrary to the laws of nature and thus the source of human misery. 
Diefenbach used his art to argue for the return of man to nature, peace and 
humanity, referring to himself as ein Ideen Maler and ein Protest Kiinstler 
(an idea painter, a protest artist). He painted prodigiously, primarily in 
cycles on religion, pedagogical and scientific themes such as Thou shalt not 
kill and paradise regained, mostly left in sketches or finished by his pupils, 
such as his most devoted disciple, Fidus (Hugo Hoppener, [1868-1948]), 
because his philosophical and moral preoccupations absorbed much of his 
time. After spending several weeks in a Munich prison because of his habit 
of taking a daily air bath in the nude in his garden, he moved to Vienna 
where he hoped to pursue a quieter life. 

Soon after his arrival, which was accompanied by great publicity, Diefen- 
bach became Kupka's idol: "I dreamt about him for two years and now I 
spend a lot of time with him." Kupka will say in a letter in 1894: "He is a 
moralist, a musician, a painter, a poet ... he imagines his happiness [Gliick- 
seligkeit] as Nirvana. But I found out that he doesn't know enough about 
esoterica . . . The basis of his thoughts is probably Aristotle, Plutarch, Plato 
and Schiller. Paracelsus or Agrippa von Nettesheim are unknown to him— 
he is a Naturpbilosopber.™ In 1894, the twenty-three year old Kupka moved 
to Diefenbach's isolated cottage in Hiitteldorf and spent several months 
there. It was a kind of a commune where Diefenbach lived with his children, 
their teachers and several pupils who followed the precepts of his practical 
philosophy: vegetarian life with daily air bath and exercise in the nude, 
philosophical discussions, contemplation, music and painting. Diefenbach 
believed in a certain analogy between painting and music and in the mutual 
influence of the two. Many musical soirees were held, and a pianist, or pref- 
erably a violinist, accompanied Diefenbach and his students while they 
worked.' 9 It is unlikely that Kupka became a better painter because of Die- 
fenbach's teaching, but many characteristics of his lifestyle and philosophy 
of art are so similar to Diefenbach's that his influence cannot be ignored. 
Kupka was greatly addicted to daily physical exercise in the nude in his gar- 
den in any weather, summer or winter, to which he ascribed a vital impor- 
tance and which he continued to practice until a very old age. He drew 
conclusions about the influence of one's physical condition, ascetism, the 
consumption of wine, nicotine and caffeine on the perception of color. He 
developed his theory at length in his chapter on color in his book: 

I have discovered for myself the sensations of splendid sensitivity to color, 
aroused exclusively by hygienic care. After my morning shower, I exercise, 
summer and winter, entirely naked in the garden. It is also a manner of harden- 
ing the body. It is like a prayer with which 1 turn to the rising sun, the great 
fireivorks in the beautiful seasons accompanied by birdsongs, my entire body 
penetrated by the fragrances and the rays of light. Thus 1 experience magnificent 


moments, bathed by hues flowing from the titanic keyboard of color. The prin- 
ciple of harmonized forces is the best answer to all questions as to enrich and 
grasp the picturesqueness of the colorist. 40 

Just as Diefenbach ordered piano and violin music for his painting sessions 
with his pupils, Kupka writes in his book particularly about the violin 
and its capacity to unfold a specific chromatism. We know from his post- 
war correspondence with Jindf ich Waldes and from the testimony of many 
of his friends the degree to which music was indispensable to him, and the 
fact that the radio was always playing music in his Paris studio. 

In 1895, through Diefenbach, Kupka met the future art critic Arthur 
Roessler (1877-1955). They became good friends and saw each other very 
often, and for a time Roessler lived in Kupka's apartment. At that time 
Roessler was a student of philosophy and history of art at the University 
of Vienna and was therefore in touch with the ideas current in the intel- 
lectual world. Kupka was six years older than Roessler, which gave him 
a certain superiority in experience and spared him his usual complexes, 
which stemmed from his lack of a classical education. We sense in Kupka's 
letters a tone of assurance which enabled him to express and formulate 
his thoughts boldly. It was at that time that Kupka realized that a "subject" 
is unnecessary in painting, that one can experience a great joy just in seeing 
colors and lines. He speaks of "spots of color and lines moving in his 
head" 41 and signs most of his letters to Roessler "color symphonist," which 
is what he was called by his Viennese friends. While difficult to prove, the 
assumption is not farfetched that Kupka influenced his friend Roessler's 
ideas on abstraction as expressed in the introduction to his book Neu 
Dachau, published in 1905, as well as in his call to painters to use 
simultaneous color contrast in abstract ornament. But at that time in 
Vienna, Kupka wished to express more than an emotion, a state of mind; 
like so many Central Europeans, his concern was to give form to the 
metaphysical anxiety that tormented him. These philosophical concerns 
are reflected in his paintings of the Viennese period such as Quam ad 
causam sumus? (Why are we here?), Hymn to the Universe and Towards 
Luminous Heights. Unfortunately these three paintings are now lost. 

We do not know how many of Roessler's friends in Vienna were also 
Kupka's friends. Roessler's correspondence with many Czech and Austrian 
painters may, in the future, open the door to a new study of this Viennese 
period in the history of art, now so very much neglected— the history of the 
Secession. A part of this history is Kupka's participation in the movement. 
For decades his evident Secessionist morphology has been ascribed to his 
origins and to his stay in Vienna. The Czech critics have treated these 
elements of his style with a certain embarassment, and the French have 
rejected these characteristics as traces of his early, non-French taste, "Le 
gout si different du notre—helas!" 42 With the changing of public taste, 
Kupka's Secessionist verticals, horizontals, squares and circles are currently 
being reevaluated, but ascribed to the influence of French Art Nouveau; 
this hypothesis is based on the false ideas that French Art Nouveau, German 
Jugendstil and Viennese Secession are essentially the same style and that the 
Viennese Secession did not begin as a movement until April 3, 1897. It is 

40 Tvoreni v umeni vytvarnem, pp. 90, 

41 Letter to Roessler, September n, 

42 Ed. Deverin, "F. Kupka," L' Art 
decoratif, July 1909. 


43 Noted in letter to Roessler, October 
10, 1910. 

important to understand the basic conceptual and formal differences be- 
tween Art Nouveau, which originated with French Post Impressionism and 
Jugendstil, whose origins are in the unrealistic, idealistic paintings of the 
Nazarenes. Jugendstil reached Vienna late and never took deep root. 
Viennese Secession as a style should really be considered as its counter- 
movement. While the Secession association was not officially formed until 
1897, elements of the movement's style had been present in the Viennese 
climate for some time before. The movement had its roots in the School 
for Arts and Crafts, annexed to the Oesterreichisches Museum fur Kunst 
und Industrie. This institution had been established in 1864, when Vienna 
was the first city on the continent to respond to G. Semper's call for reform 
in art education. Its aim was to abolish the distinction between the fine and 
decorative arts and to establish studios in which these arts would be 
executed in a spirit of old Bruderschaften, brotherly cooperation between 
master and pupil — all ideas of the Nazarenes. It is most likely that Kupka, 
who had warm memories of similar teaching in Jaromer, would recognize 
the parallel concepts emanating from the Viennese school. Furthermore, 
Kupka himself, prior to leaving Vienna, made an effort to organize some 
sort of artists' association (Kiinstlerbitnd) on the lines of the Secession, but 
failed. 43 

44 Though the book was not published 
until 1923, the notes were written 
between 1910 and 1914. 

45 There are several hundred gouaches, 
watercolors, drawings and prints 
from his pre-abstract period in the 
Narodni Galerie, Prague and nearly 
five hundred preparatory studies for 
his abstract paintings at The Mu- 
seum of Modern Art, New York. I 
am indebted to Alfred H. Barr, Jr., 
himself deeply interested in Kupka, 
for allowing me to work for several 
years on these studies and thereby 
discover the origins of almost all of 
Kupka's abstract painting. 

Road to the New Reality 

Kupka's artistic development is a long, tortuous groping towards abstrac- 
tion, with only a few, brief deviations with which he quickly grew disillu- 
sioned. His concept of non-objective art is clearly evident from several 
sources: notes for his book and the book itself Tvoreni v umeni Vytvarnem, M 
his correspondence with friends and his preparatory studies for paintings 
and illustrations.' 5 The book tells us about his philosophical ideas and his 
letters further reveal his commitment to spiritism and Theosophy. The 
studies for his paintings document his method of working and his creative 
process. Clearly, his early non-abstract work already contains the germs 
of his future abstractions. Kupka's particular interests and inclinations- 
folk art, spiritism, Theosophy, Nazarenism, Secession— evolve from one 
another; they are links in the chain of Kupka's evolution, which is con- 
tinuous and logical. 


Czech Folk Art and his knowledge of ornament awakened his interest in 
Greek vases of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. which he studied in the 
Louvre. They confirmed his thinking that "ornament was not invented to 
fill empty spaces, but to complete the event the figures are describing." 46 
Similarly, it awakened his interest in Celtic ornament, which enchanted 
him and which he studied during numerous trips to Brittany. 47 In referring 
to Celtic art, Kupka was justifying his decision to abandon reality. 48 His 
involvement with ornament led him finally to Islamic art. Its symbolic, 
ecstatic, rhythmic and decorative quality provided him with a source of 
constant delight and instruction. The pure form of Islamic ornament, con- 
ceived exclusively in aesthetic terms, without any reference to nature, 
merely a statement of formal relations, found similarities with his own aim 
in his final realizations. It was "the logic of purified concepts, Platonic 
form, beautiful in itself." 49 By final realizations, I mean not only the works 
from the period of 1930-1935 but also the final versions of all the series 
that he continued to rework throughout his life in a relentless process of 

Islamic art, it seems, led Kupka back to Czech folk art. When the Musee 
des Arts Decoratifs in Paris exhibited Czech folk art in 1926 he valued 
this art above the contemporary efforts of some Czech artists to imitate 
western "high art." 50 Soon thereafter he decorated his home with Czech 
folk ornaments which he used on posters and other propaganda material 
during the war. In 1929 he redecorated his dining room with ornaments 
used for illustrations of the Song of Songs which were reminiscent of Czech 
and Islamic ornament. 

Kupka's inclination to ornament was an "atavism" of which he was 
aware. "Following the art of any nation or time, we can clearly observe 
the typicality of tendency, taste or unusual attributes that it expresses. This 
is particularly observable in the outline of artificially created forms, as for 
example, in ornament," wrote Kupka. 31 

figs. 9a, 9b 

Kupka, Preparatory sketches for The 

Song of Songs, c. 1909, Narodni Galerie, 


Spiritism was responsible for Kupka's lifelong involvement with the oc- 
cult and metapsychology, which had fundamental consequences for his 
general outlook and philosophy of art. His ability to function as a medium 
made him believe that he was capable of insight into reality inaccessible 
to most. He believed himself endowed with exceptional intuition and per- 
ception and ability for self-observation and self-analysis, which he con- 
sidered vital for the discovery of the "essence of reality." He believed not 
only in transfer of thought but also in transfer of energy and strength. This 
belief was sustained by Mrs. Kupka who would complain that when her 
husband exerted himself with vigorous work he sapped not his but her 

Kupka never ceased to practice spiritism, except, probably, during long 
periods of illness and in very old age. 52 In the first years in Paris he was 
compensating with spiritist seances the strongly felt external reality which 
overwhelmed him while he tried to adapt to it. "Unfortunately— or may 
it even be good luck— I came again in contact with the Spiritists . . . Yester- 
day I experienced a split consciousness where it seemed I was observing 

46 Tvoreni v umeni vytvarnem, p. 32. 

47 Noted in letters to Waldes, 1925. 

48 Notes for Tvoreni v umeni 

49 Interview with Kupka, Koh-i-Noor, 
Prague, no. 41, 1933. 

50 Letter to Waldes, October zo, 1921. 

51 Tvoreni v umeni vytvarnem, p. iz. 

52 This fact has been repeatedly con- 
firmed to me by two men: the Sym- 
bolist poet and astrologer Louis 
Arnould-Gremilly, who was one of 
Kupka's closest friends from 1919- 
57, and Jacques Villon's brother-in- 
law, Jacques Bon, a fervent spiritist 
who was Kupka's neighbor from 

the earth from outside. I was in great empty space and saw the planets roll- 
ing quietly. After that it was difficult to come back to the trivia of every day 
life . . . and so in my thoughts I seek refuge in you," 53 wrote Kupka to Roes- 
sler in 1897. In 1901 in a short autobiographical letter he described the 
"discussions" he used to have with his idol Manes and added: "By the way, 
I do believe until today that Manes' ego still appears from time to time in 
complete consciousness." 54 Flashes of colored spots and lines which he 
described to his Theosophist friend in Vienna in 1895 obsessed him and he 
tried to capture them. As late as 1924 he wrote to his Czech friend: "I can 
now render what before was moving in my spirit like mysterious distant 
visions which I was unable to master and even not fully to perceive." 55 He 
ascribed this ability to express his visions to his "physical and spiritual 
exercise." 56 

During a colloquium about Kupka in Prague in 1968, Rene de Solier 
discussed Kupka's unusually intense and vivid colors which had struck 
color technicians at the time of Kupka's first abstract paintings and have 
since then been remarked upon by many. He suggested that they may have 
originated in his youthful spiritistic experiences from 1887 to 1891. De 
Solier was not aware that Kupka's spiritistic practices continued well 
through his Vienna and Paris years. 

Theosophy as revived in the United States and Europe in the last quarter 
of the nineteenth century had strong occult tendencies and it is easy to 
understand why the spiritist Kupka was attracted to its doctrines. From 
what is known of Kupka's thinking, it is difficult to conclude that he 
embraced all the tenets of modern Theosophy. His philosophical outlook 
was a conglomerate of various influences rather than a closely knit, unalter- 
able doctrine. Like the Theosophists he believed that life is a force of 
consciousness which is the essence of all things, that nature manifests itself 
rhythmically in geometric structures, which, being a thing of beauty can 
be discovered by an artist endowed with intuition. Thus, there was in 
Kupka a strong echo of the Bergsonian truth-finding role of art. Bergson's 
influence was remarkable in other respects, which, however, exceed the 
scope of this article. The contemporary theory of the subconscious also 
left its traces in Kupka's epistemology. He believed in the absorptive 
capacity of the subconscious and its ability to greatly enrich man by 
releasing into consciousness that which it has absorbed. In his ontology, 
Kupka consistently uses Platonic ideas. For Kupka the painter, the search 
for "ideas" of forms and color became an important goal on his road to 
a new reality. 

53 Letter, February 7, 1897. 

54 To Machar, January 2, 1902. 

55 Letter to Waldes, August 16, 1914. 

56 Ibid. 

57 Tvoreni v umeni vytvamem, p. 63. 

Nazarenism, in particular, had a lasting influence not only on Kupka's 
theory of art but also on his method of creation. In his book Kupka dis- 
tinguishes between two types of art: the first is realistic and profane and 
tends to represent exterior life; the second is based on speculative thought 
and is manifested through a combination of plastic elements. "The latter art 
wants to penetrate the substance with a supersensitive insight into the 
unknown as it is manifested in poetry or religious art." 5 


Kupka believed that he was atavistically destined for the second category 
which, in his youth, was the art of the Nazarenes. His painting and the 
philosophy at which he arrived between 1910 and 191Z are the logical 
consequence of this realization. He recognized the problem of the relation- 
ship between form and content in a work of art. Manes felt the incom- 
patibility between the poetic content and the realistic rendering of his 
figures, which he therefore enveloped with ornament. Ales felt this incom- 
patability even more strongly and integrated his figures into ornamental 
space. Kupka, in his solution, transformed the figure itself into an orna- 
mental form. 

Kupka, like his teachers, believed that while people as a rule see nature 
globally, an artist sees it analytically: "We cannot perceive quickly and at 
the same time deeply . . ." 58 An artist observes life around him and adds to 
each impression images from his memory. He associates so much that he 
is unable to see reality clearly; moreover, "he is not bound to see things 
as they really are . . ." 59 Kupka's thinking had a logical consequence: 
"If the artist wants to be true to his model he has to betray his vision and 
if he wants to adhere to his vision he has to distort his model." 60 This finally 
resulted in his abandoning the object as we see it and in recreating it 
through his painter's vision, which would become, by his own definition, 
his "New Reality," governed only by rhythms and harmony. His visions 
did not come necessarily from nature; we can even say that they rarely 
came from nature. Like all the Classicists, Kupka did not see anything 
wrong with taking inspiration from his old paintings or from others which 
he liked. "Impressions from a work of art are normally stronger than those 
from nature. In art the last word is never pronounced. A work of art is in 
fact created only to inspire another work of art." 61 For Kupka, as for all the 
Nazarenes, art always had an ethical aim— a mission. He refused to accept 
art for art's sake. In Prague, when he was working under the influence of 
Manes and Ales and the Academy, it was to achieve and to communicate 
beauty and promote patriotic ideals. In Vienna, under the influence of 
Eastern philosophy, it was to contemplate and communicate the truth. To 
fight against the social order, to instruct people about man's evolution 
was the goal of his illustrations in Paris. Again in 19 10 he decided to com- 
municate beauty by way of his "New Reality." His constant preoccupation 
with the expression of the ethics of painting led to a continuous process of 
clarification and simplification. He believed that the future of art is in 
clarity. 62 Another consequence was his condemnation of a purely formalistic 
criticism: "To the history of art should be added a long chapter about 
psychology. It would be interesting to find out in the symbolic and relig- 
ious art of Egypt and Mesopotamia how much of his own the artist con- 
tributed to works that were suggested, prescribed, or freely inspired." 63 

Typically Nazarene was also Kupka's desire to create a painting whose 
linear harmony and color scheme would produce effects similar to those 
of music. He had great examples in Manes and Ales, who succeeded 
admirably in uniting melody with form. Not without reason is Manes' art 
often analyzed in Czechoslovakia in connection with the music of Bedrich 
Smetana. Kupka believed, just as Apollinaire did, that the Slavs have an 

58 Ibid., p. 67. 

59 Ibid., p. 68. 

60 Kupka, preface, Quatre histoires de 
blanc et noir, Paris, 1926. 

61 Tvofeni v umeni vytvarnem, pp. 
158, 173. 

62 Kupka, "Creer," Vie des Lettres, 
Paris, July 192.1, p. 569. 

63 Tvoreni v umeni vytvarnem, p. 13. 


fig. IO 

Late Corinthian Amphora, Tydeus 
Killing Ismene, c. 560-550 B.C. Musee 
du Louvre. 

64 This theory was developed by Louis 
Arnould-Gremilly in the chapter 
"Orphisme et les Slaves," of his book 
Frank Kupka, Paris, 192a, p. 38. 

65 Richard Weiner, "Navstevou u 
noveho Frantiska Kupky" [Visit to 
the New Kupka], Samostatnost, 
Prague, no. 218, August 1912. Re- 
printed in Vytvarne Umeni, vol. XV, 
no. 8, Prague, 1968, pp. 367-371. 

66 W. Warshawsky, "Orpheism, Latest 
of Painting Cults," The New York 
Times, New York, October 19, 
i9i3,p. 4. 

67 [Kupka in Prague: interview], 
Svetozor, September 1, 1936, p. 19. 
Kupka did not like his work, which 
did not originate in Cubism, to be 
confused with the Orphism of the 
painting described by Apollinaire; 
for him Orphism had a broader 

68 La Geometrie secrete des peintres, 
Paris, 1963, p. 32. 

69 February 2, 1913. 

atavistic characteristic which permits them to hear as intensely as they see. 64 
He wished to communicate the stirring of the spirit he experienced upon 
hearing music. "Kupka wants painting to sound like music," wrote the 
Czech poet Richard Weiner after visiting the artist in Paris in 19 12. 65 "I am 
still groping in the dark, but I believe I can find something between sight 
and hearing and I can produce a fugue in colors as Bach has done in music," 
Kupka repeated in 1913, one year after exhibiting his Amorpha, Fugue in 
the Salon d'Automne. 66 

Greek art again— classical this time— confirmed the Nazarenes' theory 
about the role of art and the analogy between painting and music. It was 
Kupka's guide in Paris when he decided to abandon completely what he 
saw and paint again only what he felt. He remembered later: "It was in 
1911, I created my own uniquely 'abstract' way of painting, Orphism, 
disregarding all other cultural systems except that of Greece." 67 "The per- 
fect example of a melodic composition is the frieze of the Panathenaea in 
the Parthenon. There plastic art approaches music the closest," writes 
Charles Bouleau, 68 accompanying his photographs with a line of musical 
notes to show that the procession of a frieze creates a movement which 
develops in time as well as in space. Kupka spent many years contemplating 
Greek friezes in stone and on vases, in museums and in photographs. As 
late as 1913 he wrote to Roessler: "They did not paint the countryside or 
the trees, and even the human body was for them an 'ensemble' of beautiful 
lines and forms. Their reliefs are Sundays they left to us." 6 ' 

Kupka was intensely interested in stained glass. His lasting interest in 
color penetrated by light led him to install a stained glass window in a 
corner of his studio soon after moving to his own house in 1906. It remained 


there until his death. A Czech critic, after discussing Orphism with Kupka, 
stated that the two stained glass windows in Notre Dame were the probable 
inspiration for Kupka's first Orphic experiments in 1911. 70 Kupka himself 
described the "vertiginous musicality of color" 71 of the Saint Germain- 
L'Auxerrois and Notre Dame windows in his book. He often visited 
Chartres with his students, where, as they remembered, they would spend 
the entire day, borrow a ladder and study the colored windows on the basis 
of Kupka's notes. 72 Because of his master-class work on cartoons for Bo- 
hemian churches, Kupka already was familiar with the mosaic-like process 
of assembling stained glass compositions out of geometric elements, a 
process which encouraged an abstract, ornamental style and tended to 
resist any attempt to render a three-dimensional effect. Kupka loved the 
mystical, continuous light of stained glass and used to show his students 
the uselessness of the details added in black on the glass surface. His desire 
to capture the "vertiginous musicality" and spirituality of stained glass led 
him to create The Cathedral of 191 3. 

Greek art and cathedrals also confirmed Kupka in his belief in the appli- 
cability of mathematical calculation to art. He had a complete knowledge 
of Golden Section measurement, 73 which was part of the Nazarene teaching 
and which was abandoned by the Realists, and, of course, by the Impres- 
sionists who were guided by the "eye." 

The builders of Gothic cathedrals were men of feeling only to a certain degree, 
but they were above all mathematicians . . . look at the Doric temples, even the 
Ionic, and your blood circulation steps up rhythmically, putting you in a Sunday 
mood. ... 7/ the Egyptians thought, the Greeks measured . . P A 
We must start completely anew. . . . When ive draw a line, a dot, it should sit 
so correctly in space that one has the impression that it is an event, that some- 
thing has happened. The same for color. The whole immobility of a work, not 
the dynamics of the futurists, who are lyrically inclined and try to track down 
nature by experimenting with a style of action. 75 

For Kupka art gives pleasure by satisfying an instinct for harmony, which 
derives from line, form and color; its principle is proportion and its chief 
aim is the communication of beauty. 

Kupka's method of painting was also Nazarene. "I start to paint only 
when I can clearly visualize my product," 76 he wrote in 1901. "Creation in 
art starts with a vision," 77 he reaffirmed after spending thirty more years in 
the French capital. When Kupka's vision was clearly defined in his mind, he 
made a small schematic drawing. Then he made dozens of studies from 
nature or other works of art. Even during his most abstract period he used 
these studies, but they were only his "dictionary," never his inspiration. He 
used a microscope to see the unknown, a kaleidoscope to see the unusual, a 
fan, accordion shapes, and later, even perhaps a camera to capture move- 
ment. As he used to cut and add arms to a figure to find a more ideal form 
in his book illustrations, he would later cut a figure into strips to give it a 
feeling of progression and use translucent paper to multiply the same shape 
many times to suggest a melody. "One has to work on a problem for years 
in order to be able to produce a sketch, a viable study," 78 he wrote to his 
friend in 1913. 

70 B.S. Urban, "Kupkuv Orphismus," 
Cesta, January 28, 1928. 

71 Tvofeni v umeni vytvarnem, p. no. 

72 Information furnished by Kupka's 
Parisian students Milos Holy, Vac- 
lav Fiala, Richard Wiesner and Jan 
Mehl in conversations with the au- 
thor, Prague, Summer 1967. 

73 The question of whether Kupka 
participated in the Salon de la 
Section d'Or has been raised (see 
this catalogue, pp. 310-n, fn. 6). 
However to this author's knowl- 
edge, no one has so far investigated 
to what extent Kupka influenced his 
Puteaux neighbors to use the 
Golden Section. Jacques Villon has 
been credited with its introduction. 
But, as Charles Bouleau has pointed 
out, in La Geometrie secrete des 
Peintres, Paris, 19S3, p. 96, the idea 
of the Golden Section penetrated to 
France from Germany and Prague. 
It seems likely, therefore, that 
Kupka with his long academic 
training in Vienna and Prague, 
would have taken an active part in 
the discussions of the Puteaux 
group. During the opening of 
Kupka's retrospective at the Musee 
National d'Art Moderne in Paris in 
1958, the aged and visibly moved 
Villon admired the paintings of his 
now dead friend. He said several 
times to me "Kupka etait un grand 
peintre, c'etait mon maitre, j'ai 
beaucoup appris de lui." (Kupka 
was a great painter, he was my 
teacher, I learned a great deal from 

74 Letter to Roessler, February 18, 

75 Letter to Roessler, February 2, 1913. 

76 Letter to Machar, March 22, 1901. 

77 Letter to Waldes, February 9, 1930. 

78 Letter to Roessler, February 18, 

79 Kupka did not hesitate to use a 
model in a bathtub installed in his 
garden when he wanted to correct 
the play of light and lines on mov- 
ing water. He even studied preserves 
cooking in order to imagine or 
correct his vision of matter or 
thoughts ascending. There are many 
errors of interpretation of these 
incidents as related by Mme. 
Kupka, such as the statement "from 
as ordinary a sight as a collection 

of jam jars Kupka drew a grandiose 
composition which evokes Indian 
architecture," (Fedit, op. cit., p. 73) 
or that "a moving curtain became 
Ordonnance sur verticales" (Lud- 
mila Vachtova, Kupka: Pioneer of 
Abstract Art, New York, 1968, 
p. 104.) 

80 Tvoreni v utneni vytvarnem, p. 63. 

81 Ibid., p. 196. 
82. Ibid., p. 147. 

83 Letter to Waldes, August 16, 1914. 

84 Louis Sullivan, Kindergarten Chats 
and Other Writings, New York, 
1947, p. 189. 

Like all the Nazarenes, Kupka always verified his visions in front of a 
model and corrected them to achieve the right proportions. 79 He believed 
that "in order to make the outer expression of an idea, a feeling or an expe- 
rience intelligible, it is necessary to give it the structure of objective na- 
ture." 80 "Great art consists of ... a selection from the subjective world . . . we 
captivate the viewer only when the organism he is presented with is coher- 
ent." 81 Sometimes he would work directly with the already conceptualized 
forms. "Each work brings an experience. . . . The balance of proportions 
becomes a habit . . . and the artist becomes a happy master of the spatial 
structure. . . ." 82 The best example of this stylization from his own old pic- 
tures, without corrections from nature, is his series Quatre histoires de blanc 
et noir, woodcuts and many gouaches done at the same time to "prove the 
possibility of real creation without transforming nature." 83 They are also 
the best examples of a work in which Kupka suddenly used his great com- 
mand of ornamentation and arabesque surface— like Dvorak, who com- 
posed his Slavonic dances inspired by folk melodies, as if for his own 
pleasure after completing work on a symphony. 

When Kupka completed the final study for a painting, he covered the 
canvas with carefully calculated geometric lines which indicated the most 
important points of the painting's structure. Kupka's statements in his book 
indicate clearly that in the course of such procedures— in enlarging or re- 
ducing a figurative study— in his pre-abstract period, he realized that figures 
were unnecessary to express his vision, that it was the geometric structure, 
the "skeleton," as he called it, which fascinated him, because it contained 
the principle of beauty, the harmony and melody of the painting. From 
that point on, it was merely a question of time until he could faithfully exe- 
cute his paintings according to his vision. 

Czech and Viennese Secession marked Kupka's thinking and style for his 
entire life. One constantly used argument that Kupka could not have been 
influenced by the Viennese Secession is that Klimt's Philosophy was ex- 
hibited at Vienna University only in 1900, when Kupka was already in Paris. 
However, we know that he saw the painting that same year, exhibited in 
Paris much more prominently than it had been in Vienna. At the Paris 
World's Fair Philosophy received a prize of honor. Kupka often visited the 
exhibition where his compatriots were amply represented. His friend Al- 
phons Mucha (1860-1939) decorated the section of Bosnia Herzegovina. 
Ales, with other Czech Secessionists, decorated the interior of the Czech 
section, and Kupka himself exhibited his painting Bibliomane and, like 
Klimt, received a prize of honor. Both the Czech and the Viennese section 
were decorated by architects and painters in a spirit of Gesamtktmstiuerk 
(collective art). Their collaboration was the logical consequence of the 
original Nazarenes' need to decorate great surfaces. There was also an 
awareness that "there exists a particular sympathy between ornament and 
structure, each enhancing the value of the other." 8 " 1 Kupka could again com- 
pare the structural and symbolic ornamentation of Ales and the Czech 
Secessionists, who were in turn strongly influenced by folk art, with the 
simple exterior decorations of the new Viennese ornament. The Viennese 



fig. II 

Hoffmann, Architectural relief executed 
for 14. Austellung Secession, Vienna, 
1902, Bildarchiv der Nationalbibliothek, 

architects also revealed something new which seems to have influenced 
Kupka profoundly. The Viennese room, decorated by Josef Hoffmann 
(1870-1956) in strictly geometrical, simple lines, was a sensation in Paris, 
which was still full of the undulating lines of French Art Nouveau. It was 
called the most modern expression of that time. 85 Comparison of the vertical 
planes of Kupka's abstract period with photographs of Hoffmann's interior 
and exterior architectural plans, which were reproduced in every German 
and Czech art review, makes strong similarities obvious; Kupka's debt to 
Secessionist architecture in his later years in Paris becomes irrefutable. 
Structure as a complete artistic expression in itself, without ornament, an 
architecture which drew its expressive forms from the subjective world en- 
chanted Kupka. He compared it to music. "They both have the same great 
advantage in comparison to painting— and even to poetry he writes, "they 
draw their expressive forms from excitement and thoughts which they de- 
velop in abstraction. The architect doesn't copy natural sounds . . . both 
architecture and music are superior because they are able to express the 
inexpressible, to which we are sensitive. " SA Kupka ascribes the excitement 
and emotions we feel contemplating beautiful architecture to perfect pro- 
portions, rightly evaluated and to the calculated divisions of all planes. He 
created his first abstractions under the inspiration of both these arts- 
architecture and music. He wanted to create as they do, and for the same 
reason, "to give us joy, a sense of beauty." 87 

Kupka's departure from Vienna should not be interpreted as a separa- 
tion from the Austrian scene. Not only did he maintain contact with Vienna 
through German and Austrian art reviews, but he was kept informed by 
Arthur Roessler, by his other close friend living in Vienna, the Czech poet 
Josef Machar (1864-1942) and especially by his constant companion in 
Paris, K. E. Schmidt, Austrian and German correspondent for Ver Sacrum, 

85 Ver Sacrum 1900; Deutsche Kunst 
und Dekoration, 1900, p. 460. 

86 Tvoreni v umeni vytvarnem, pp. 

87 Letter to Waldes, December zi, 


fig. IZ 

Kupka, Blue and Red Vertical Planes, 
1913, Galerie Louis Carre, Paris. 

88 See Ver Sacrum, no. iz, 1900; Volne 
Smery, Prague, 1901, p. 48; Zeit, 
Vienna, June 3, 1908. 

89 Letter to Roessler, February 18, 

90 Letter to Roessler, August 14, 1896. 
90a Album Frant. Kupka, Caslav, 1905. 

91 Letter to Machar, April Z4, 1905. 

Deutsche Kunst urid Dekoration, Meister der Farbe, among others. In 1901 
Kupka was back in Vienna visiting his friends, at a time when the Secession- 
ist movement was nourishing and very much in evidence in Vienna. He 
exhibited with the Secessionists in Vienna in 1900, 1901, 1903, and again in 
1908. 88 Except for Koloman Moser, one of the principal members of the 
Secessionist group, it is not known which artists of the Viennese Secession 
he knew personally. 

In 1913, he was still thinking a great deal about the Secession philosophy: 
"Your article about Secession came just in time. I am thinking about several 
problems underlined by you." 89 

For many years Kupka's thoughts, his opinions about art, his longings, 
seemed to race ahead of their incarnation in his works. In certain periods his 
paintings, drawings and illustrations appeared to be a retrogression from 
his line of evolution. Soon after his arrival in Paris he prophesied on his 
encounter with French Realism: "Realism is overpowering here; people in 
the streets are very colorful . . . but even if I sometimes struggle with realism, 
I know that I will remain a fantasist." 90 However, he temporarily lost some 
ground in his struggle, especially from 1905 to 1909 when he settled into a 
bourgeois life with Nini, and when symbol more and more gave way to 
reality. He painted portraits, some still lifes, flowers and even landscapes. 
He considered none of it worth including in the album of reproductions 
published by K. E. Schmidt in Bohemia in 1905, nor in any of his many ex- 
hibitions there. 90a 

His book illustrations often reveal a tendency toward compromise with 
current taste. He sometimes places three dimensional, realistic figures in the 
midst of abstract, flat ornament producing a striking impression of incon- 
gruity. And yet, at the same time, in his studio, almost clandestinely, he was 
already working on a different concept of art. He said in a letter to Machar: 
"It seems unnecessary to paint trees when people see more beautiful ones 
on the way to the exhibition. I paint, but only concepts . . . syntheses, chords 
. . . but this I do only for myself. I am not anxious to show it. . . ." 9I 


tes chevreaux pres des tentes des bergers. 

A la jument attelee au char de Pharaon. 
je te compare. Bien-Aimee. 

Que tes joues sont belles dans les perles. 
Ion cou dans les colliers ! 

Nous te ferons des colliers dor, poinlilles 
d argent. 

Tandis que le Roi etait sur son divan, 
mon nard a repandu son parfum. 

Un sachet de myrrhe posi entre mes 
seins. tel est pour moi mon Bien-Aime. 

Une grappe de cypre des vignes d En 
Guedi. tel est pour moi mon Bien-Aime. 

fig- 13 

Kupka, page from The Song of Songs, 
192.8, prepared 1905-09, Narodnf 
Galerie, Prague. 

The year 1909 seems to have been the time of breaking away from com- 
promise if not yet the time of breakthrough. His illustrations for Prome- 
theus show a complete renunciation of three-dimensionality. It was a trying 
year and he complained: "Life is full of difficulties; 1 am uprooted, and in 
spite of my already long sojourn here, I am still a stranger." 92 But only a 
year later he wrote to the same friend in Austria: 

Even here, for years 1 had been a hungry soul, a soldier in the large army of 
great and small artists, until at last— but better late than never— I have gamed 
consciousness and now I stand hale and hearty before myself. The moment has 
come for me to write, draw and paint my credo. In the last month 1 have de- 
stroyed much of my work. . . . looked at carefully, they were mostly tumors 
remaining from my bad times. 1 know them well and the sterner I am with my- 
self the more easily I overcome everything that could hold me back, for I am 
boiling inside and although artistically 1 am gladly once again a youth, as we 
were— do you remember? . . . both excited by a concert . . . was not our excite- 
ment then a thing of beauty?^' 

To express the emotion provoked by beauty will now become the aim upon 
which he will concentrate his effort. And because he believed that music and 
architecture were the two arts capable of expressing those emotions auton- 
omously, he will try to follow their example in creating his new art. His 
preoccupation with symbolically expressing his ideas changed into a preoc- 
cupation with symbolically expressing the perception of the form itself. 
"Formerly I was seeking to give form to an idea, now I am seeking the idea 
which corresponds to the form." 94 He realized that "the viewer doesn't re- 
member the idea expressed in an art work. The action of plastic elements 

92 Letter to Roessler, February z, 1909. 

93 Letter to Roessler, October 6, 1910. 

94 Notes for Tvoreni v umeni 


fig. 14 

Kupka, Prometheus, prepared 1909-10. 

95 Ibid. 

96 For example, the Viennese theme of 
the movement of the human spirit 
toward light expressed in Hymn to 
the Universe, 1S95, and Toward 
Luminous Heights, 1895, ' s con " 
tinued in such work as The 
Cathedral, 1913, Blue Scaffolding, 
1919, Hindu Motif, 1921-25, Rising, 
1913. Again, the Viennese theme of 
Ouam ad Causum Sumus, 1894, 
representing the creation of the 
world according to the Theosophic 
concepts of the evolution of life 
from vegetable to animal to human, 
is taken up in Creation, and Cosmic 
Spring, both 1911-20. The visions 
of immortality which absorbed 
him in Vienna are also reflected in 
The Living Oval (also called £gg), 
1911-10, Lines, Planes, Depths (also 
called Black Uterus by Kupka in 
1946), 192.0-12, and the Moving 
Blues series of 1923-31. The more 
humorous view of human life as a 
market place is represented in The 
Fair, 1920-21. 

97 Letter to Roessler, February 2, 

which act upon the viewer and put him in a particular mood contribute to 
the development of the idea itself." 95 He believed that in finding the true 
substance of the form he would understand the substance of life itself. He 
would create a "new reality" which would be governed entirely by harmony 
and beauty. The artist's heightened consciousness is transferred through the 
work of art to the viewer and ignites his own consciousness. The new real- 
ity, created by the artist, is destined to enrich and elevate man. Yet, a great 
number of Kupka's paintings belie the concept of a mere search for beauty 
and harmony, not that they show an absence of painstaking effort to find 
form and color, but because they bear a deep imprint of their meditative 
origin. 96 Throughout his abstract period, Kupka's work shows the dualism 
of the meditative and the classicist-aesthetic concepts. This dualism may be 
followed in the appendices to the present text. 

The years between 1910 and 1913, though they were not free of anxieties, 
doubts and even moments of despair, were Kupka's heroic years in which he 
drew and painted his credo and wrote his book. Early in 1913, he wrote a 
cheerful, self-confident letter to Roessler, despite the unfavorable reception 
of his work in Paris. "Paintings I exhibited recently are called Flanes by 
Colors, Amorpha, Fugue in Two Colors, 'Warm Chromatics, etc. All in all 
what I am seeking now are symphonies. Do you remember the 'color sym- 
phonist.' You can't imagine the derision I have to put up with . . ." Kupka 
was amused by the puzzled viewer's questions: "What does it represent?" 
"What is it supposed to be?" and answered himself with a sarcastic rhet- 
orical question: "Must then a work of art represent something?" 97 Ques- 
tions and answers repeated thousand of times since. . . . 




Manes, Calendar Plate. 1865-66. Oil. 

Muzeum Mesta, Prague. 
A decorative, monumental figure of 
a girl walking gracefully, represents 
Balance. The circle which encloses 
the girl echoes and emphasizes the 
figure's motion and is thus an essen- 
tial part of the composition. 


Kupka, Girl with a Hoop. c. 1903-05. 
Pencil and watercolor. Bibliotheque 
Nationale, Paris. 

This is one of a series of composi- 
tions in which Kupka used a circle 
and flowing robes to emphasize 
fluidity of movement. 


Kupka, Study for Amorpba, Fugue in 
Two Colors. 19 1 2. Gouache. The 
Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

The dancer is schematized into an 
entirely abstract pattern representing 
pure rhythmic movement. Here the 
circle is fully integrated with the 




Kupka, Amorpha, Fugue in Two 
Colors, lyiz. Oil. Narodnf Galerie, 

This is the final and strongly defined 
result of the studies. Kupka has at- 
tained what he calls the "new 


Kupka, Study for Amorpha, Fugue in 
Two Colors. 1912.. Pencil. The 
Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

The same form is stylized into un- 
interrupted flowing lines. 


Kupka, Study for Amorpha, Fugue 
in Two Colors. After 1917. Gouache. 
The Museum of Modern Art, 
New York. 

Kupka further stylizes this motif by 
eliminating lines not essential to the 
basic rhythm. 


Kupka, Composition. 1947-50. Oil. 
Collection P.P., Paris. 

Years later Kupka used elements of 
these two series to create a new form 
which now no longer suggests either 
music or dance. 


. -**'. M~"' 


m m. 



— •-. 



SERIES 1: Continued 

ib, 2b, 3b 

Kupka, Studies for Lines, Planes, 
Spaces, c. 1912. Pencil. The Museum 
of Modern Art, New York. 

Another series depicting schematized 
dancing motion. In the second, the 
elements are disconnected, depriving 
the figure of its cohesiveness. In the 
third, the intersecting curves, which 
form the visual center of gravity in 
the final painting, are established. 

4 b 

Kupka, Study for Lines, Planes, 
Spaces, c. 191 2. Woodcut. Narodnf 
Galerie, Prague. 




Kupka, Lines, Planes, Spaces. 19 13- 

22.. Oil. Private Collection. 

Both are part of a series which occu- 
pied Kupka intensely. In it he 
attempted to express the progression 
of music in time through the use of 
melodious, multicolored lines pro- 
jected in space, echoed by smaller 
background lines. The center of 
gravity was determined according to 
the rule of the Golden Section. 


Kupka, Study for Lines, Planes, 
Spaces III. c. 1913-23. The Museum 
of Modern Art, New York 


Kupka, Lines, Planes, Spaces III. 

c. 1923 [reworked 1934]. Oil. Musee 

National d'Art Moderne, Paris. 

This is a simplification of the same 
theme, dated ten years later than 
Study for Lines, Planes, Spaces and 
Lines, Planes, Spaces. 

6b i»«j 



This is one of many of Kupka's series of the Viennese period concerning metaphysical questions. 
Quam ad Causum Sumus? (What is our purpose?) 



Enigma of Life. Vienna, 1894. 

This allegory depicts the circle of life 
with figures swept by a current of 
water and two figures of women, one 
of which probably represents 
Minerva with the masks of science 
and wisdom, the other life and death. 
The scene is dominated by a mys- 
terious sphinx. 

Rhythm of History. Paris, c. 1905. 
Charcoal and india ink over print. 
Narodnf Galerie, Prague. 

Here Kupka focuses upon one of the 
elements of the Enigma— the figures 
carried by water— and elaborates the 
curves of the waves and the bodies of 
a man and woman swept by the 

Hadanka zivota. 


Moving Blues II. 1922-36. Oil. 
Narodnf Galerie, Prague. 

The painter retains the abstracted 
bodies of a man and a woman in an 
erotic pose, apparently in water, and 
repeats the curves of breaking waves. 
The rising oval shape suggests the 
idea of creation. 





■- 1 

&w» v 



E?iigma of Life. Vienna, 1894. 


Meditation. Paris, 1899. Charcoal on 
paperboard. Galerie Ostrava. 

A kneeling man— representing Kupka 
himself— faces a snow covered, sun- 
lit mountain with a dark barrier in 
front of it, both of which are reflected 
in water. 


Black Idol or Defiance. Paris, 1900. 

Colored aquatint. Narodni Galerie, 


Here Kupka symbolizes man's meta- 
physical fear with three figures: a 
gigantic, dark, horrifying deity which 
seems to grow out of the mountain 
seen in the previous picture; a 
petrified, probably human form; a 
diminutive, helpless man— a barely 

discernible light vertical— again iso- 
lated by dark currents of water. The 
painting represents Kupka's evolu- 
tion in this series, sometimes called 
Land of Dreams, away from the use 
of mythological allegory to express 
emotion. Ultimately, Kupka will also 
reject figurative symbolism as a 
means of expressing his metaphysical 


Study for Quam ad Causum Sumus. 
1900-03. Color etching and aquatint. 
Narodni Galerie, Prague. 

The impassable water of Meditation 
and Defiance is replaced here by an 
endless road flanked by Sphinxes 
asking the unanswerable questions. 

4 a 

Moving Blues, c. 19Z5-Z7. Oil. Col- 
lection P.P., Paris. 

The same figures are depicted, 
abstracted even further, almost to the 
point of ornamentation. 



SERIES II: Continued 

Histoire Contemporaine. c. 1905. 
Charcoal with india ink. Narodni 
Galerie, Prague. Study for Elisee 
Reclus, L'Homme et la terre. 

This academic representation of a 
family looking toward the bright 
horizon of the Promised Land sym- 
bolizes the future of humanity. The 
composition's rhythmic forms 
already suggest a geometric simpli- 
fication of planes. 

zc and 3 c 

Studies for Organization of Graphic 
Motifs. 1910-13. Pencil. The Museum 
of Modern Art, New York. 

Here the figures represented in 
Histoire contemporaine are freed of 
inessential elements and integrated 
into a new rhythmic form. 



', A^^oVttC^ 

Uvres. QwaswSna 


HiSTORl. cc 




Study for Organization of Graphic 
Motifs. 1910-13. Pencil. The Museum 
of Modern Art, New York. 

The same "new reality" revealed in 
the preceding drawings in integrated 
into a plastic space which is defined 
entirely by the intensity of lines and 


Organization of Graphic Motifs I. 
1912.-13. Oil. Collection Royal S. 
Marks Gallery, New York. 


Study, Organization of Graphic 
Motifs, c. 1913. Pastel, Private 

A totem-like figure derived from the 
family group in Histoire contem- 
poraine perhaps symbolizes mankind. 
This figure is placed in a space similar 
in structure to the space which sur- 
rounds men contemplating their 
metaphysical dilemmas in Meditation 
and Study for Quam ad Causum 






Margit Rowell 

I Letter to Roessler, February z, 1913, 
Collection Wiener Stadtbibliothek, 
Vienna. The author is indebted to 
Meda Mladek for bringing these 
letters to her attention. 

Kupka witnessed the birth of Cubism in Paris, but he never identified him- 
self with it or any other movement. On February 2, 19 13, the artist wrote to 
Arthur Roessler of his dissatisfaction at being labeled one of the Cubists and 
having his work exhibited with them: "In the last Salon d'Automne I had a 
beautiful place of honor, unfortunately in the room with the Cubists with 
whom I am almost on a parallel. It is with me as it was with Degas, who was 
classified as an Impressionist." In a continuation of the same letter, dated 
February 5, he wrote, obviously referring to Cubist-type painting: "[one] 
arrives at deformers: neoarchaics and neo-primitivists. You may have seen 
them in German exhibitions of Picasso's followers who cherish not only 
rigidity of line but rigidity of vision; who hate the color of the sun-loving 
Impressionists because ten years ago Picasso developed a new palette ... I 
know the Parisian followers of Picasso, the Cubists, personally. I do not 
encourage their visits and I do not visit them either. I live like a hermit . . . 
woods and meadows around me, and I see many things in a tiny patch of 
grass, much more than in any exhibition." 1 

This rejection of Cubism is significant, for France was Kupka's country of 
choice and Cubism was France's dominant art form at the time Kupka's 
own expression began to mature, from about 1909-13. From 1900, one of 
Kupka's closest Parisian friends was Jacques Villon. Other friends and ac- 
quaintances included Duchamp- Villon, Duchamp, Picabia, Gleizes, Met- 
zinger, Leger, Apollinaire. If any generation referred to Cubism for the 
formulation of its vision, it was this one. 

It must be remembered that Kupka was much older than they and came 
from a radically different cultural background. As he wrote to Roessler in 
1897, one year after his arrival in Paris: 


Here in Paris I have lost the capacity to think; what remains are my sense per- 
ceptions. 1 ivould like to stop thinking altogether . . . so that 1 needn't adapt 
myself to endless metaphysics for no good reason. Even though I still have an 
impression of alienation from this world, and 1 still have visions which seem 
very real, I am working with all my strength to get out of the transcendental 
labyrinth, and to limit myself to my sense organs. ... 7 am mentally intoxicated 
by the Parisian air which forces one to be very pragmatic and leads one away 
from introspection. . . , 2 

Vienna was like a sickness of a man who is not physically fit. ... 7 became an 
emotionally sick man. Viennese air is not good for a painter. . . . It was deca- 
dent. Here I am once again enjoying the light and warmth of life. I am healed of 
these diseases. ... 7 want to go back to learning from nature. 3 

These letters reveal the disparity between the context of experience of 
Kupka's past and the context of the present he is discovering. The shock of 
discovery is discernible in all his correspondence of the period. Yet equally 
perceptible is the imprint of his Central European heritage, a vision and 
philosophy which will remain with him throughout his lifetime. 

Kupka's aesthetic was indeed foreign to French positivist thinking. For 
Kupka, art was the projection of the highest form of human spirituality 
through evocative but autonomous forms and colors. The artist does not 
reproduce nature; but nature is his model for understanding the universal 
cosmic order. The natural processes of growth, expansion, rotation, dila- 
tion, constriction are visible inferences of rhythms which man, as a part of 
the cosmic order, contains within his innermost being. These rhythms pro- 
vide the structure of the artist's vision. 

Whereas the artist's vision is "subjective"— a term which Kupka under- 
stood to mean a personal interpretation of cosmic forces— his formal means 
must be objective; he must invent a repertory of forms and colors which 
evoke universally legible concepts, instincts and rhythms. Technical per- 
fection is of prime importance in order to project one's vision in unequiv- 
ocal terms. Like Kandinsky, Kupka analyzed the configuration, function 
and significance of a spot, a point, a line, a plane and every color. Vehicles 
of universal values, emotions and ideas, each one was to be used according 
to its specific function. 

Kupka's aesthetic can be traced to two dominant influences in his early 
life. The first is his involvement with occult sciences and mystical experi- 
ences, continuous since his early exposure to spiritism as a child in Bohemia. 
Later he became interested in astrology, Theosophy and Eastern religions. 
He probably remained a medium all his life. These disciplines made him 
receptive to visionary experiences and taught him that a world beyond the 
perceptual realm exists, a world ruled by dynamic causality and change, 
colored by imaginary not perceived hues, infinite in its dimensions. Nothing 
is still, everything moves in a vital flux. Man can only intuit its rhythms. 

The second abiding influence in Kupka's life was the specific kind of aca- 
demic training he received, first in Jaromer in Bohemia and later in Prague 
and Vienna. His professor Studnicka may have been the most important 
element in this schooling, as he instructed him in the associative powers of 

colors and the emotional implications of dynamic line. This teaching was i Ibid., February 7 , i8 97 . 

based on the study of folklore motifs as universal archetypal configura- 3 Ibid., March 10, 1897. 


4 The author is indebted to Mladek for 
bringing Studnicka to her attention 
and helping her understand his sig- 
nificance, as well as that of the 
Nazarenes in the context of Kupka's 

5 Undated manuscript; courtesy 
Andree Martinel-Kupka. 

Lions. 1 Kupka's Nazarene professors were a lesser influence. Nonetheless, 
their Symbolist aesthetics contributed to his turning away from descrip- 
tive, narrative painting and to his understanding of art as embodying spirit- 
ual significance. 

With these dimensions of Kupka's past experience in mind, it is under- 
standable that Paris appeared to him as another, entirely foreign world. It 
is also understandable that he found the conceptual basis of Cubism in- 
compatible with the abstract concepts which he understood as the real 
content of art. Formally it was inappropriate as well. Cubism was static, 
monochromatic, flat and spatially restricted, a distortion of perceptual 
reality based on a sum of rational or pictorially logical choices. How- 
ever Kupka's vision was one of constant change, which implied dynamic 
rhythms, arbitrary color, undetermined space. 

Abstraction would be Kupka's alternative to Cubism: a translation of his 
vision into pure rhythmic forms and colors. Understanding the cosmic order 
as a kaleidoscope of changing light, color forms and space, Kupka was 
keenly aware of the difficulties involved in capturing its sense and structure: 

Alas, Nature is ever-changing, rapid are its metamorphoses. The laws of physi- 
ology are beginning to be disseminated; Daguerre, the moving picture, reproduce 
more exactly what the most faithful realist painters attempted to give the world. 
The most skillful artist is absolutely incapable of capturing the life of nature 
with traditional means. Poetry is creation. The artist must be able to create, like 
musicians, constructors of machines, architects? 

Paradoxically, Kupka's aesthetic was determined and clarified by his ex- 
posure to positivist philosophical modes, advanced scientific discoveries and 
a diversity of artistic models and theories in France. Through his discovery 
of the moving picture in its preliminary forms and extensions— from the 
physiological experiment to the art form— he learned to endow the two- 
dimensional image with implications of motion and, by thus extending the 
subject into its surrounding space, he arrived at the pure visual expression 
of universal rhythms. Although he had been versed in color theory since his 
early training in Jaromer, the example of Neo-Impressionist practice and 
theories enlarged his understanding of the potential of free color-form. And 
new discoveries in the natural sciences, as well as Kupka's increased atten- 
tion to the objects of his perception helped him discern microcosmic indices 
in the cosmic order in nature. 

Kupka came from Central Europe with a vision developed through the 
exercise of metaphysics. His exposure to positivism taught him to perceive 
the physical equivalents of this vision and distill them into abstract equiva- 
lents. His vision, his new perceptual experiences and their formal technical 
implementation would interact, producing a unique personal form of ex- 

Kupka and the Depiction of Movement 

At first glance, rhythmic organic activity and the evenly measured sequences 
of the film strip appear as diametrically opposed concepts of the displace- 
ment of matter in time and space. However the history of scientific investi- 
gation in these domains proves this to be untrue. The forefathers of the 


A. An/ruilh - B- Cliienttemer _ C . Lczard - D . Gecko. 

Gocl.irit/ _ /O images />,//■ seco/irft 



Goc/;u/<f _ 37 images par seeoinic 


MotUH'iiionls divers 



T ? 


t r 

Tipule aa vol 

fig. I. 

Marey, Diverse Examples of Animal 

Locomotion. Musee Marey, Beaune, 


cinematographic technique were physiologists, men of science who were ex- 
ploring the dynamic natural processes of the universe. 

For example, Etienne- Jules Marey is best known for his late nineteenth- 
century photographs of animal and human locomotion, (see figs, i and z). 
In fact, his area of investigation extended far beyond this achievement. First 
with his chronographic process, then with his chronophotographs, Marey 
recorded images of the muscular, respiratory and circulatory activity of the 
human body; the minute patterns of insects in flight (see fig. 3); the move- 
ment of water and air currents (see fig. 4). Other contemporaneous physi- 
ologists photographed and graphed the accumulation and disintegration of 
cloud formations, the effects of lightning, eclipses of the sun, positions of the 
moon. Still others studied the kinetic variations in currents of electricity. 


fig. 2.. 

Marey, Man Walking, c. i88z. 
Cinematheque francaise, Paris. 

6 Muybridge's photographs were first 
published in France in the periodical 
l.a Nature, December 14, 1878. 
Marey 's first book on animal loco- 
motion, La Machine animate, ap- 
peared in 1873. See Aaron Scharf, Art 
and Photography, London, c. 1968, 
chapter 9, for extensive discussion of 
these events and their influences. 

And by 1895, with the inventions of microphotography and X-ray photog- 
raphy, it was possible to trace the changing phases of biological growth. 

Photography was a tool which these men developed into an exact science. 
Essentially they were measuring the space and time of common occurrences. 
To this end, they devised systems of evenly spaced visual intervals which, 
measured by periods of seconds and minutes, allowed an understanding of 
displacement in time. Paradoxically, these scientific experiments provided 
the bases for cinematography as an art form, as it emerged in the last dec- 
ades of the nineteenth century. 

The impact on artists of these scientific discoveries and the more popular 
forms which derived from them was immeasurable. Some artists reacted 
positively to them; others considered all forms of photography a threat to 
their art. However, all artists of the period recognized that photography 
added a dimension to visual experience, in its revelation to the transitory 
aspects of natural phenomena which are invisible to the naked eye. 

By the 1890's it would have been virtually impossible for an artist living 
in Paris to remain ignorant of the photographic revolution. Moreover, 
whereas up to the 1870's artists were concerned with the applications of 
still photography, after the publications of Marey's and Muybridge's ex- 
periments, 6 attention turned to the kinetic or moving image (see figs. 1-13). 
Scientific and popular journals were filled with photography's break- 
throughs. Albums of photographs were published in profusion. One could 
attend public lectures and demonstrations all over Paris. And as early as the 
1880's, cameras, photographs and film strips were exhibited at the Conser- 
vatoire des Arts et Metiers. 


It was therefore not only logical but inevitable that, during the first two 
decades of the twentieth-century, artists came to question the traditional 
definition of painting as an immobilized image, a static configuration of a 
single immutable moment in time and space. Kupka, living in France by this 
time, was no exception. In fact, although his experiments tend to be over- 
looked, he may have made the first attempts to capture the kinetic dimen- 
sion in painting. 

Kupka arrived in Paris in the spring of 1896, at a time when cinemato- 
graphic activity was at its height. Emile Reynaud had been showing his 
Optical Theater at the Musee Grevin since 1892. Edison's Kinetoscope of 
1 89 1 had been available to the general public since 1894, the year a Kineto- 
scope Parlor was opened at 20, boulevard Poissonniere. The Lumiere broth- 
ers' Cinematograph had been unveiled in December 1895 and, since then, 
projected films daily at the Grand Cafe, 14, boulevard des Capucines. By 
1896, the Lumiere brothers could show footage backwards and Georges 
Melies was projecting fast-motion films. In the year 1896 alone, 129 patents 
were registered in France relating to moving picture filming and projection. 7 
All over Paris, music halls, theaters and cabarets presented kinetic light and 
image shows, from primitive magic lantern productions to the most tech- 
nically sophisticated projections. 

fig- 3- 

Marey, Partial Traces of Insect's Flight, 

before 1885. Musee Marey, Beaune, 


7 Georges Sadoul, Histoire generale da 
cinema, vol. 1, Paris, 1973, p. 200. 



a la rencontre de diverted formed 

fig. 4- 

Marey, Air Movements. Musee Marey, 

Beaune, France. 

I Denise Fedit of Paris, in preparing 
the Kupka inventory catalogue for 
the Musee National d'Art Moderne 
(1966), found a prospectus for 
Reynaud's seances of 1896 or 1897 
among Kupka's personal papers. The 
author is indebted to her for her 
assistance and information (both 
published and unpublished material) 
concerning this particular aspect of 
Kupka's development. 

The cinematographic industry was concentrated on the right bank in 
Paris, in Montmartre and on the grands boulevards. Kupka's studio was in 
this neighborhood, as were the newspapers and cabarets which assured his 
precarious livelihood as an illustrator. To Kupka, coming from a tradition 
steeped in allegory, mysticism and metaphysics, Parisian life was a continu- 
ous revelation: a world of vivid sense perceptions opening up before him. 
He may therefore have been more vulnerable to the visual seduction and 
implications of cinematography than his French colleagues and contempo- 

A prospectus found among Kupka's possessions indicates that he dis- 
covered the moving picture in the form of Reynaud's Praxinoscope or his 
Optical Theater as early as 1896 or 1897 s ( see %■> P- 9 2 )- Reynaud showed 
his Optical Theater at the Musee Grevin almost daily between 1892 and 


1900. The Praxinoscope and the Optical Theater were constructed on an 
identical principle of two nested cylinders. The outer one was lined with 
panels on its inner face, each one depicting a different and consecutive phase 
of a figure in motion. The center drum was sheathed with mirrors. As the 
outer cylinder revolved around the stationary inner drum, the mirrors regis- 
tered the turning images, reconstituting them into one consecutive move- 
ment. Reynaud's first bands were drawn by hand. In August 1896, he began 
making bands based on photographs, inspired by Marey's chronophoto- 
graphs. Yet since Reynaud colored and retouched even the photographs by 
hand, his projections retained a hand-made quality. 

Around 1900-02, Kupka executed a drawing, The Horsemen (cat. no. 
9), inspired by the Praxinoscope principle. It is a precocious but isolated 
experiment at this point in Kupka's career. A revolutionary depiction of 
movement, the early date of this drawing is often questioned. 9 However in 
view of the fact that Reynaud's presentations at the Musee Grevin were dis- 
continued in 1900 and that around that time moving picture production 
entered a more sophisticated phase— based on documentary footage (Lu- 
miere) and theatrical mises-en-scenes (Melies)— the dates 1900-02 appear 
more plausible than a later date. Furthermore, Kupka's style in this drawing 
is close to the rapid brush and ink manner he developed for L'Assiette au 
beurre, he Rire and the other satirical journals for which he started working 
around the turn of the century. 

The representation of movement in The Horsemen is primitive. The sur- 
face is divided into rhythmic vertical bands. The vertical seams which scan 
the drawing's surface reproduce the effect of the Praxinoscope's mirror pan- 
els which ripple at each juncture. In the left foreground Kupka presents a 
positive image whose shadow is multiplied and reflected across the mirror 
panels. On the far right, the horseman's shadow is shown turning to the 
rear, indicating that Kupka was inspired by a convex image, or, more ex- 
actly, an image on a circular drum. 

Although the technique for recording movement is based essentially on 
Reynaud's invention (in fact Reynaud did bands of moving horses), Kupka 
could as well have been referring to Muybridge's and Marey's studies (see 
figs. 5, 12, 13). These photographs were known all over Paris and some of 
them were exhibited at the 1900 World's Fair. 

The 1900 World's Fair dominated the life of the French capital through- 
out that year. Kupka exhibited at the Fair and visited a number of the pavil- 
ions. In a letter to Machar, he mentioned a vertiginous ascent in a balloon 
which can only refer to the Cineorama which was conceived specially for 
the Fair and duplicated a balloon voyage in all its details. 10 His already evi- 
dent interest in photography and the cinema suggests that he must have 
visited the large photography pavilion exhibition organized by Marey. 

Marey's exhibition was divided into two parts, both of which would 
have been of immediate or long-range interest to Kupka. The first section, 
"Instruments and Images Related to the History of Chronophotography," 
included the following displays: photographs showing the analysis of ani- 
mal locomotion according to the Muybridge method (photographs of 
horses) (see fig. 5); chronophotographs by Marey, showing a fencer (fig. 6) 

9 Mladek prefers a 1909-10 date; 
Virginia Spate dates the drawing 
1906-08 in her forthcoming book 
Orphism (Oxford University Press); 
Jindfich Chalupecky dates it 1909-12 
("Nothing but an Artist," Studio 
International, vol. 189, January-Feb- 
ruary 1975, p. 32). On the other hand, 
Fedit dates it 1900-02, as does 

10 Invented by Raoul Grimoin-Sanson, 
a disciple of Marey and friend of 
Melies, Reynaud and Albert Londe, 
the Cineorama was built for the Fair 
at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It 
consisted of a circular drum in which 
the audience sat as though in the 
nacelle of an airship. This was sur- 
mounted by a balloon. A moving 
picture depicting a voyage over 
Europe and North Africa was pro- 
jected on the circular screen. For 
further information on this inven- 
tion, see Grimoin-Sanson's auto- 
biography, Le Film de ma vie, Paris, 
1926, pp. 88-127. 



r , 

'.<»■ ^ 

J* J- 













ft f 
















1 ^^ 









uybridge, Daisy Jumping a Hurdle, 
83-87. The Museum of Modern Art, 
ew York, Gift of the Philadelphia 
Dmmercial Museum. 


and a walking man (fig. 2); three-dimensional sculptures based on chrono- 
photographs; a multiple-lens camera invented by Albert Londe, accom- 
panied by photographs of a horseman; multiple images, including the 
schematization of a running man (fig. 7); double-action chronophoto- 
graphs; chronophotographic projectors; Edison's Kinetoscope; the Lumiere 
brothers' Cinematograph. 

The second part of Marey's exhibition demonstrated the "Scientific Ap- 
plications of Chronophotography." In the catalogue accompanying the 
exhibition, Marey explained how the chronophotographic process can cap- 
ture the consecutive positions of a moving object and create a visual (vir- 
tual) volume or a compound image consisting of elements invisible to 
the naked eye. The examples given, and exhibited, included photographs of 
a single thread or band of paper rotating around a central axis, forming a 
sphere or a skein-like configuration; photographs of water and air currents; 
patterns of animal locomotion on land (horses), in water (eels, other fish), in 
the air (birds, insects), etc. 11 

By 1900, Marey's and Muybridge's experiments were widely known. Not 
only cinematographers and artists but poets and writers on aesthetics had 
immediately seized upon their implications. Paul Valery's Introduction a la 

fig. 6. 

Marey, Fencer, 1882. Cinematheque 

francaise, Paris. 

11 [Marey], Musee centennal de la 
classe 12 (Photograpbie) a ['Exposi- 
tion Universelle Internationale de 
1900 a Paris, exhibition catalogue, 
St. Cloud, n.d. 


fig- 7- 

Marey, Cbronophotographic Study of 
Hitman Locomotion, 1887-88. Musee 
National des Techniques, Paris. 


1 1 '2* '5 U is 1 j 


12 Reprinted in Paul Valery, Variete, 
Paris, 1914, pp. 213-268; the passage 
referred to is on pp. 2.32.-233. 

13 Paul Souriau, La Suggestion dans 
I'art, Paris, 1893, p. 126. 

methode de Leonardo da Vinci, first published in 1894, contains a passage 
on motion which engenders form which probably could not have been 
written without knowledge of Marey's discoveries. 12 More directly relevant 
to our subject, in 1889 and in 1893, Paul Souriau referred to Marey and 
Muybridge in his books of art theory, L'Estbetique du moiwement and La 
Suggestion dans I'art. The second book remained in Kupka's library until 
his death. It is unfortunately impossible to determine when he acquired it. 
However, certain passages of this 1893 publication discuss the translation of 
movement onto a two-dimensional support in a way which explicitly fore- 
casts Kupka's somewhat later approach to the problem. 

In the chapter entitled "The Representation of Movement," Souriau gives 
the following indications: 

The most exact and the most expressive pose can only show us one phase of 
represented movement; mobility consists of a sequence of these phases. How 
can one project an idea of that sequence? By depicting several figures which 
enact approximately the same movement, each one depicting a different phase. 
Thus one produces an illusion like that of the zootrope: the diverse images 
which succeed one another on our retina give the impression of a jerky move- 
ment at high speed. . . . Each part of the total image presents a figure which the 
next figure modifies and the total impression of movement is extraordinary P 


This particular passage evokes Marey's multiple exposure images more 
than Muybridge's separately framed photographs (see figs. 8-n). Although 
often grouped together, the two photographers had very different ap- 
proaches to their subject of human or animal locomotion. Muybridge's 
photographs of consecutive phases of motion were made by a battery of 
cameras placed around or along a moving subject's path. Thus the photog- 
rapher virtually moved around or with the figure, capturing its progression 
from slightly different points of view. Marey, who was interested in patterns 
of motion, not in the specific characteristics of each arrested phase, captured 
the consecutive imprints of a moving subject on a single stationary lens. The 
subject moved before the camera; the camera did not move. The resulting 
chronophotograph showed a compound image of separate but overlapping 
silhouettes of a single figure moving through space and time. The trajectory 
of displacement and the minute oscillation patterns, both invisible as such 
to the naked eye, were rendered as a sequence of superimposed forms in 
which trace images and impressions assumed as much presence and sub- 
stance as the figure itself which was conversely dematerialized in its kinetic 
progression. Thus, as Marey liked to point out, 14 the process neutralized all 
positions of the subject to the status of a virtual presence. 

fig. 8. 

Marey, Man jumping. Cinematheque 

francaise, Paris. 


Muybridge, Woman jumping over 
Chair, 1883-87. The Museum of Mod- 
ern Art, New York, Gift of the Philadel- 
phia Commercial Museum. 

14 [Marey], op. cit., p. 26. 


15 The author is indebted to Michel 
Frizot of Dijon for bringing this con- 
tact to her attention. 

16 George Heard Hamilton and William 
C. Agee, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, 
1876-1918, New York, 1967, dis- 
cussion and reproduction, pp. 40-41. 

In 1908, the influence of high-speed photography appeared in the work 
of the sculptor Raymond Duchamp-Villon. Prior to 1898, Duchamp-Villon 
had studied medicine and completed his internship at the Salpetriere hos- 
pital in Paris where he came in contact with Dr. Albert Londe, who was then 
Director of the Photographic and Radiographic Division. 15 Londe, a disciple 
of Marey, was interested in the decomposition and analysis of physiological 
activity. Inspired by Muybridge's experiments, by 1883 Londe had devel- 
oped a single camera with multiple lenses activated by a metronome with 
which he could photograph nine or twelve consecutive movements in space. 
Thus it is safe to assume that Duchamp-Villon was familiar with high-speed 
photography and the physiological analysis of movement before he left the 
medical profession to become a sculptor. 

The small sculpture Song, of which the first plaster version dates from 
1908, shows Duchamp-Villon's first explicit reference to high-speed photog- 
raphy. William Agee has argued that a sequence of Muybridge photographs 
of a "seated figure slightly turning with arm raised" helped the sculptor 
arrive at the formulation of this sculpture. 16 Agee points out that Duchamp- 
Villon turned to Muybridge "to confirm his own observation." His earlier 
attempts to capture motion had not completely satisfied him and he realized 
that a true understanding of muscular activity depended on these recent 
developments in photography. 

The Kupka/Duchamp-Villon family friendship dated from at least as 
early as 1900, the year Kupka moved in next to Jacques Villon on the rue de 
Caulaincourt in Montmartre. In 1906 both Villon and Kupka moved to ad- 
joining houses at 7, rue Lemaitre in Puteaux, a Parisian suburb. They were 
to be joined in 1907 by Raymond Duchamp-Villon who took a house 
which shared the same garden. Marcel Duchamp, who was living in nearby 
Neuilly by that time, was a frequent visitor to Puteaux. 






•fc."^^ ■"'•< " j 





J^ _ - jrf 

K I 

■b * 



fig. IO. 

Marey, Bird in Flight. Cinematheque 
francaise, Paris. 

In 1908, the same year it appeared in Duchamp-Villon's sculpture, evi- 
dence of interest in high-speed photography began to emerge in Kupka's 
work. Yet Kupka, who was less interested in pinpointing anatomical 
changes than in motion as a time-space progression, turned toward Marey 
and chronophotography for his models. His initial subject was his wife's 
daughter Andree playing in the garden with a ball (cat. no. 31). Frustrated 
by the impossibility of capturing the kinetic dimension of both the ball in 
the air and the child at play, he began doing diagrams of the child with the 
ball. The schematic sketches of the child's curving gestures combined with 
an analysis of color derived from the colored ball rotating through the spec- 
trum led to the series of 1911-12, Disks of Neivton (cat. nos. 72-75) and fi- 
nally to the Amorpha, Fugue in Two Colors (cat. no. 92) of 1912. However 
simultaneous studies of the child's silhouette as it turned upon itself estab- 
lished the basis for another, parallel series of works of 1909-n, Wotnaii 
Picking Flowers, which depicts overlapping consecutive phases of motion. 
These works, less abstract, and therefore less spectacular than the studies 
leading to the Fugue, are visually closer to chronophotography. They are 
also closer to and may in fact adumbrate Marcel Duchamp's paintings of 
1911 17 and Villon's paintings of 19 12-13 (for example, Soldiers on the 
March). It is therefore important to examine them here in order to under- 
stand Kupka's position in relation to other artists of his time. 

The theme of a woman picking flowers culminates in 1909-10 in a large 
series of vibrant pastels (see cat. nos. 46-5 1). 18 In the two earliest studies 
shown here, the subject— a woman rising from a seated position and leaning 
forward to pick a flower— is decomposed into several evenly spaced and 
flattened overlapping silhouettes strung out across a vertical grid. A pro- 
nounced blur of even hatching suggests the trajectory from one position to 
another. Kupka was to write a few years later: "In order to give the impres- 
sion of movement through the use of static agents . . . one must evoke a se- 
quence of presences; to do so in the visual arts, one must indicate different 
intensities of impressions, from the least to the most easily perceptible. . . . 

fig. 11. 

Muybridge, Bird in Flight, 1883-87. The 

Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift 

of the Philadelphia Commercial 


17 For discussion of Duchamp's 1911 
paintings, see this author's "Kupka, 
Duchamp and Marey," Studio 
International, vol. 189, January- 
February, 1975, pp. 49-50. 

18 Visitors to Kupka's studio in the 
fifties (Lilli Lonngren, Meda Mladek) 
remember seeing perhaps as many 

as fifteen pastels on this theme. Un- 
fortunately the whereabouts of the 
others are unknown today. 

19 At the time of writing this text, the 
author had had access to four un- 
dated manuscripts (in French), all of 
which showed some stage of prep- 
aration for Kupka's book Tvofeni 

v Umeni Vy'tvarnem, finished in 1913 
and published in 1913. These manu- 
scripts have been classified as follows, 
and will be referred to accordingly 
throughout this catalogue. Manu- 
script I: Notebook, 1910-11 (?) Pre- 
liminary notes. Courtesy Andree 
Martinel-Kupka; Manuscript II: 


Handwritten version of Chapter V. 
courtesy Karl Flinker; Manuscript 
III: Miscellaneous notes. Courtesy 
Denise Fedit; Manuscript IV: Com- 
plete manuscript of book (prelimi- 
nary form); Courtesy Denise Fedit. 
Since Kupka's French is often not 
only repetitious but syntactically 
incorrect, for brevity and clarity's 
sake, all texts have been translated 
by the author into English. The above 
quote is from Manuscript II, p. 66. 
Manuscripts II-IV may be dated 

20 It is impossible to determine the 
exact order in which these pastels 
were executed. But it does seem that 
cat. nos. 49 and 50, more fluid and 
synthetic, could not have been done 
unless they were preceded by the 
analytical approach seen in the first 
two described here. 

21 Kupka, Manuscript I, p. 5. 
12 Ibid., p. 29. 

Thus one can render an effect of displacement, especially if the contours of 
the forms— moving— are cinematically unfolded, multiplied, moving from 
degree to degree, plane to plane." 19 

In later versions of the same subject (cat. nos. 49-50), 20 this evenly ca- 
denced pattern of motion is loosened and dissolved into a cluster of ever 
more fluid arabesques. Whereas the earlier images were based on a fairly 
literal analysis of sense perceptions, dependent on the chronophotographic 
process, the later group shows a more personal interpretation. Here Kupka 
translates the moving subject into the abstract concept of motion itself, 
seen in the rhythmic articulation of ethereal shadows fanning out from a 
central upright axis. 

In the last version shown here (cat. no. 51), although the grid structure is 
once more visible, the figure is shattered and integrated into the surround- 
ing space. Here Kupka achieves a unified all-over pattern in which focal 
image, trace or memory imprints and ambient space are fragmented, flat- 
tened and enmeshed in a single plane. Kupka wrote in his notebook of 
approximately the same time (1910-n): "When we try to remember a 
dream . . . often we only retain a skeleton of the dream images ... a vague 
grid through which fragmented forms emerge and disappear as quickly as 
they came." 21 However, more relevant to the artist's specific pictorial con- 
cerns is the passage in the same notes where he states: "The projection of a 
form on the surface of the canvas is in fact merely the limiting of one sur- 
face in relationship to the surrounding surfaces. The better painter one is, 
the better one binds the two." Contour, shading, light, he continues, are 
means to articulate the surface and, used in a particular manner, to destroy 
the traditional priority of closed focalized forms. 22 Obviously Kupka is at- 
tempting to slide his forms into a less differentiated spatial pattern. 


There is reason to believe (but unfortunately there is no proof) that the 
original inspiration for these drawings was a photograph of Madame Kupka 
in the garden in Puteaux. Kupka was only an amateur photographer. How- 
ever at approximately the same time (c. 1908), he devised a camera with 
which to take photographs of himself running naked in his garden. The 
resulting shots were rather crude multiple-exposure photographs for which 
Marey unquestionably provided the inspiration. 23 

A second series of works executed between 1909 and 191 1 depicts a 
woman with one arm raised, the other on her hip. Whereas the final oil ver- 
sion Planes by Colors (cat. no. 59) appears as a static composition flattened 
across a vertical grid, two preparatory pastels (cat. nos. 56, 57) reveal an im- 
plicit kinetic content. The studies show the head and arms in several con- 
secutive positions simultaneously. And as the upper limbs shift positions, 
the torso, hips and thighs seem to rotate from a three-quarter to a frontal 
position. Thus once again we have a composite image of a perceived subject 
enhanced by memory impressions. And, in a manner similar to Marey's 
process, as the subject extends its image to encompass the temporal dimen- 
sion, its substance is diluted in space to that of a virtual presence. 

fig. iz. 

Marey, Horseman, Cinematheque 

francaise, Paris. 

13 Once again the source of this infor- 
mation is Fedit who has reported (in 
conversation with the author) that 
she saw the photographs of Kupka 
in the garden (photographs which are 
now lost?). Fedit has also said she 
cannot believe that these pastels 
were not based on a photograph. 
Kupka's stepdaughter, Andree 
Martinel-Kupka, says that she be- 
lieves the series was "inspired by my 
mother in the garden at Puteaux." 
(Correspondence with the author, 
Spring 1975.) 


fig. 13. 

Marey, Walking Horse. Cinematheque 
fran^aise, Paris. 

14 Souriau, op. cit., p. 127. 

The theme of Planes by Colors is rotational motion. It depicts a figure 
moving toward and away from the viewer around a central axis. Interest- 
ingly, this is a subject which Souriau discussed in some detail, saying that a 
figure supposedly moving from one side of the canvas to the other never 
transmits a successful illusion of movement because the object must be cap- 
tured at a single arrested point of its path. However, in real life a figure mov- 
ing toward the viewer does not perceptibly move in his field of vision, and 
therefore its painted version does not present a discrepancy to the viewer. 
Souriau suggests that the most effective image is ". . . the oblique movement 
which presents figures in three-quarter view. The impression may be less 
strong but the aesthetic effect is . . . more satisfying than an abrupt fore- 
shortening." 24 

The imagery of this figure rotating in space engenders the notion of a 
virtual volume situated in shallow depth behind the surface plane. However 
the illusion of volume and its implications of depth perspective were anti- 
thetical to Kupka's pictorial aims. Acutely conscious of the two-dimensional 
specificity of the painter's art, Kupka rejected modeling and shading, rele- 
gating them to the sculptor. He rejected perspective as well, which he de- 


fined as a staggering of planes in depth through "the differentiation of di- 
mensions, hues and tones." 25 As an alternative to these conventions, Kupka 
proposed the juxtaposition of colors according to their progression on the 
spectrum. 2 * 5 

These ideas were already visible in the Woman Ticking Flowers series, 
as was Kupka's rejection of the anthropomorphic centrally focussed image: 
"If I employ forms of different dimensions, composed according to rhythmic 
concerns, I will achieve a 'symmorphy,' which, like a symphony, will de- 
velop in space. That way I will achieve an effect of printed material [mor- 
ceau d'etoffe a motifs]. There will be no specific center of attraction. We are 
too accustomed to letting our eyes be drawn to the human figure, its details, 
etc." 27 

These passages from Kupka's writings help to explain his pictorial op- 
tions of this period. The painting Planes by Colors is their consummate 
illustration. In order to suppress not only the pictorial conventions he re- 
jected but also the push-pull effects of the vibrant color contrasts found in 
the pastel studies, Kupka took each fluid silhouette and compressed it into 
a flat rectilinear plane. Coloring the planes according to a chromatic pro- 
gression of prismatic color, he laid them laterally in an even grid arrange- 
ment across the surface of the canvas. Thus he dissolved his subject into 
ambient space and light and destroyed conventional perspective, the illusion 
of volume and the traditional spatial distinction between a focalized figure 
and a neutral ground. 

Despite its ultimate flatness, the picture summons an idea of simultaneous 
gesture in time and space. Here simultaneous gesture denotes an indistinct 
shifting of perceived or remembered forms within a single figure. The tran- 
sition from sequential to simultaneous gesture as it is seen in this painting, 
executed in 19 n and exhibited in March 19 12, shows an approach to the 
concept of motion which is quite different from both that of the Italian 
Futurists and the late 1911 paintings of Duchamp. 

Simultaneity was a popular concept in the years 19 12 to 19 14, so general- 
ized in fact that it was hopelessly imprecise. A number of individual artists 
felt they had invented the term but it was appropriated by poets, writers and 
musicians. Canudo applied it to Stravinsky; Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars 
applied it to themselves; Henri Martin Barzun wrote a Manifeste sur le 
simultaneisme poetique in 1913; Delaunay and the Futurists disputed it 
among themselves. In reality, the term was a catch-all for many things: 
associations, impressions, images, motion, colors in complementarity, mod- 

Although the Futurists spoke of simultaneity, they more often depicted 
movement as a sequential unfolding of a single action or image of a state of 
mind (stato d'animo). Futurist painting has been described as "a mode of 
analytical Cubism, the examination of moving parts in disarticulation, Cu- 
bism in motion." 28 Marcel Duchamp reportedly said, "My interest . . . was 
closer to the Cubists' interest in decomposing forms than to the Futurists' 
interest in suggesting movement, or even to Delaunay's Simultaneist sugges- 
tions of it. My aim was a static representation of movement . . ." 29 

25 Kupka, Manuscript I, p. 18. 

26 Ibid., p. n. 

27 Ibid., p. 10. 

28 Arthur A. Cohen, Sonia Delaunay, 
New York, 1975, p. 30 and discussion 
of simultaneity, pp. 29-30. 

29 Arturo Schwarz, The Complete 
Works of Marcel Duchamp, New 
York, 1969, p. 18. 



■ ■ , '• "/**** 

• . ' fx.:i^i 


fig. i 4 . 

Kupka, Untitled Sketch, c. 1910. Collec- 
tion Karl Flinker. 

30 Roger Allard in Les Marches du 
Sud-Onest, no. 2, Paris, June 1911, 
p. 69. 

31 Jean Metzinger, "Note sur la pein- 
ture," Pan, Paris, October-November 
1910, pp. 649-651. English trans- 
lation from Edward F. Fry, Cubism, 
New York-Toronto, (1966?), p. 60. 

32. Richard "Werner, "Navstevou u 
noveho Frantiska Kupky," Sam- 
ostatnost, August 8, 1912. Reprinted 
and presented by Jindrich Chalu- 
pecky, Vy'tvarne umeni XV, c. 8, 
1968, pp. 367-371. Translation by 
Suzanna Simor. Italics mine. 

Delaunay understood simultaneity as a juxtaposition on the one hand of 
complementary colors (inspired by Chevreul's "simultaneous contrasts") 
and on the other as an integration of scenes, objects, forms which could 
never be reconciled in nature. As Roger Allard suggested in June 191 1, De- 
launay's paintings were conceived as an assemblage of different points of 
view. 30 This is what characterizes the Cubists and Delaunay and what sepa- 
rates them from Kupka. Like Muybridge, the Cubists moved around the 
object, capturing several points of view. Metzinger said about Picasso in 
1910: ". . . he lays out a free mobile perspective. . . ." 31 Whereas Kupka, emu- 
lating Marey, forced the object to move before his "stationary lens" or eyes. 

Curiously Kupka never used the term simultaneity in reference to his own 
ambitions. Yet one could say he was the most simultaneist of them all. In 
fact, without using the term, Kupka defined it in an interview with a young 
Czech journalist in July 1912 who recorded their conversation in the fol- 
lowing terms: "Although he used to be puzzled by the Futurist 'simultaneity 
of sequences,' all his effort today is directed toward solving the problem of 
shifting. He is stubborn. When I argue with him and say that it is impossible 
to convey with one view what in reality is perceived through a continuous 
succession of views, he gets excited and says, 'Maybe I'll believe that tomor- 
row; today I swear by this.' " ,2 

Kupka's transition from sequential to simultaneous imagery may be situ- 
ated sometime during the years 1910-n. A small annotated sketch from that 
period may mark the turning point in the artist's thinking. This drawing 
(fig. 14) shows indistinctly overlapping silhouettes of a female figure turning 


and bowing slightly to the right. It may be placed c. 1910, between the two 
series studied above. In the upper right corner, Kupka has written: "Three- 
dimensional displacement takes place in space, whereas four dimensional 
displacement [takes place] through an exchange of atoms. But to capture 
[fix, arrest] a gesture, a movement on the space of the canvas . . . capture 
several consecutive movements." Under the inscription, four stick figures 
walking from left to right illustrate the idea of consecutive displacement. 

The second sentence is clearly inspired by Marey's definition of move- 
ment in which discontinuity is a major element: "By passing a series of ana- 
lytical images before the spectator's eyes, one reconstitutes the appearance 
of movement itself." 33 Kupka confirms his adherence to this notion in further 
notes of 1912-13: "Movement is no more than a series of different positions 
in space." 34 

However, the first sentence of the inscription is more enigmatic. Although 
the fourth dimension was a common subject of conversation in artists' cir- 
cles as early as 19 10, Kupka's terminology suggests a direct reference to an 
explicit text. Throughout the year 1908, Gaston de Pawlowski, the editor of 
Comoedia, published a series of articles in his newspaper in which he evoked 
the experience of the fourth dimension. These preliminary essays were in 
fact sketches for a series of articles he published more regularly in 1911-12., 
and of which at least the 1912 series would finally appear in book form in 
late 1912 as Voyage an pays de la qnatrieme dimension. 33 

Compare this passage by Pawlowski to Kupka's notes above: 

Whereas in three-dimensional displacement the atoms constituting a body are 
pushed aside and replaced by other atoms forming another body . . . displace- 
ment in the country of the fourth dimension is enacted by what one used to call 
a transmutation. The ivorld of the fourth dimension being continuous, no move- 
ment in the ordinary sense of the word can be produced as in the mobile ivorld 
of three dimensions. Therefore, a displacement is made through an exchange of 
qualities between neighboring atoms. . . . When one enters the country of the 
fourth dimension, movement such as we know it, no longer exists; there are 
only qualitative changes and we remain immobile, in the common sense of the 
word? 6 

Pawlowski's central ideas are pinpointed in Kupka's lapidary phrases and 
illustrated by the two juxtaposed drawings. The qualitative changes seen in 
Kupka's rendering of simultaneous gesture are produced by a shifting of 
energies sliding into one another and thereby cohere to Pawlowski's text. 
However, Kupka will not completely discard the notion of linear consecu- 
tive motion as enacted in the three-dimensional world. Both concepts of 
displacement will accompany the artist in his progressive distillation of per- 
ceptual experience into abstract terms. 

Unquestionably Kupka had developed his own theoretical premises con- 
cerning the depiction of motion well before the first Futurist paintings 
reached Paris in February 1912. And just as certainly, they developed in re- 
lation to sources within his Parisian context. The same sources, and perhaps 
even Kupka's example, inspired Marcel Duchamp when he began his own 
studies of moving figures. Duchamp's response to the 1912. Futurist exhibi- 
tion corresponds to the Kupka/Marey concept of motion based on analyti- 
cal discontinuity rather than the synthetic continuity to which the Futurists 
at least theoretically aspired: "It was quite exciting for me to see the painting 

33 [Marey],op. cit., p. 9. 

34 Manuscript II, p. 32.. 

35 See Jean Clair, Marcel Duchamp ou 
le grand fictif, Paris, 1975, pp. 31-32.. 

36 Gaston de Pawlowski, Voyage au 
pays de la qnatrieme dimension, 
Paris, 1971, pp. 79-80 (first published 
in 1912). 


Dog on a Leash by Balla, showing also the successive static positions of the 
dog's legs and leash." 37 

Nonetheless it must be recognized that despite an autonomous develop- 
ment and the fact that artists in Paris could not have seen any Futurist paint- 
ing prior to February 1912, Futurist ideas were in the air, transmitted by the 
Futurist manifestoes. Marinetti's First Futurist Manifesto appeared in Le 
Figaro on February zo, 1909. The Technical Manifesto of Futurist Fainting 
was published in Comoedia on May 18, 1910, accompanied by cartoons by 
Andre Warnod. There are ideas in the Technical Manifesto which are so 
close to those circulating in the Puteaux milieu that it is far from clear who 
actually initiated them. It can only be said that many of the shared notions 
derived from a European community of ideas. Common to both groups was 
the influence of Neo-Impressionism, an interest in Bergson, a knowledge of 
Marey, and diverse and multiple extensions of pictorial, philosophical and 
scientific contexts of thought. Combined, these made up a total context of 
modernism, a context to which Kupka belonged. His personal contributions 
to this context are only beginning to emerge today. 

37 Marcel Duchamp, quoted in Anne 
D'Harnoncourt and Kynaston 
McShine, eds., Marcel Duchamp, 
New York, 1973, p. 258. There is 
some problem about this reference 
since, according to most historians 
(John Golding, Marianne Martin for 
example) Balla did not exhibit in the 
1912. Futurist exhibition. 

38 According to Mladek, Studnicka's 
color teaching derived from Bezold. 
If this is true then Kupka may have 
learned the distinction between 
color-light and color-pigment at this 

Kupka and Color 

During the first decades of this century, the introduction of the kinetic 
dimension was capital to the redefinition of the function of painting. As 
capital was the shift of emphasis from color subjected to form and content 
to color which dictates its own laws. This shift was anticipated in the late 
nineteenth century by Symbolist and Impressionist painters. Not only their 
examples but the theories to which they referred were meaningful to the 
generation active around 1910-12, particularly in France and Italy. Indeed, 
nineteenth-century color theory was as important a factor in the eman- 
cipation of color as was moving-picture photography for the emancipation 
of form. 

Whereas the emerging moving-picture industry was a revelation to Kupka 
upon his arrival in Paris, his knowledge of color theory was well advanced, 
and the theories he encountered in Paris could not have surprised him. He 
had learned color theory from his professor Studnicka who, as early as the 
1880's in Bohemia, had analyzed prismatic color and invented color scales 
for its study. 38 Yet the application of these principles in the art of Seurat, 
van Gogh, Gauguin, Redon, "Whistler was light-years away from the way 
in which color was used in the Central European Academies where Kupka 
had received his training. 

By 1896, the year Kupka arrived in Paris, the Neo-Impressionists were 
exhibiting regularly. Kupka made a brief excursion into divisionism (see 
cat. nos. 1, 8) but quickly retreated from all forms of pointillism, declaring 
them a dishonest approach to color and light. He looked at Redon (see cat. 
no. 4) and Toulouse-Lautrec (see cat. no. 12), but may have found their 
softly colored light-filled compositions too dependent on symbolic or psy- 
chological associations. It was not until after c. 1906 that color for its own 
sake began to assert itself in his work. 

Some of the 1906 paintings are distinctly Northern in feeling, in the full 
sensuous volumes, rich gestural brushstroke and the dissonances of juxta- 


posed colors (see cat. no. 17). Others, slightly later, have the controlled 
brushwork and delicately keyed hues of the French Fauves (cat. no. 27). 
Impulsive or carefully controlled, these works show an artist exploring the 
function of color and concomitantly seeking a personal style. 

The Yellow Scale (cat. no. 29) is Kupka's first attempt to come to terms 
with color theory in which the result is both personal and successful. In this 
enigmatic portrait of 1907-08, Kupka's debt to Neo-Impressionism and even 
Symbolism is obvious. The dominant yellow hues evoke Gauguin and van 
Gogh, painters Kupka admired at that time. Furthermore the loosely ren- 
dered features of the sitter indicate that he was not aiming for a re- 
semblance, but attempting a symbolic evocative image. Like Mallarme, 
to whom Kupka often made allusions, he was seeking harmonies and 
chords. 39 But beyond its symbolic associations, both the painting's title and 
the restricted palette— confined to the constituents of the chromatic scale 
of yellow— suggest an allusion to color theory and probably to Chevreul. 

Chevreul's best-known work, De la loi du contraste simidtane des coul- 
eurs of 1839, was a bible for the Neo-Impressionist and Nabi painters who 
diffused his teachings in both theoretical discussions and practice. Partic- 
ularly popular was his famous law of simultaneous contrast, 40 first defined 
in this publication and elaborated in many others. Most of Chevreul's major 
works (his bibliography is extensive) were accompanied by lithographic 
plates of chromatic circles (cercles chromatiques) and chromatic scales 
(gamines chromatiques). Conceived not only for the primaries but for mixed 
colors, the high quality of the plates captured all the nuances of each 
chromatic progression. Kupka's painting The Yellow Scale (La Gamme 
jaune) shows all the variations of orange and yellow in Chevreul's "Yellow- 
Orange Chromatic Scale" (Gamme chromatique orange- jaune). 

Aside from a general allusion to color theory, in his depiction of green 
hair, Kupka may be referring to an obscure volume of 1875, L'Enseignement 
devant l' etude de la vision by Chevreul. Here the author presents an anec- 
dote in support of his theory of simultaneous contrasts, in which he explains 
that gray or blond hair may appear greenish or bluish when seen in a favor- 
able light. He explains that an optical effect of this sort is produced by a 
juxtaposition with golden, pinkish or orange skin. We have no proof that 
Kupka knew this book; yet his painting illustrates Chevreul's unusual ex- 
ample of simultaneous contrast. 

Kupka's allusions to color theory were usually more empirical than 
systematic. Yet he did adhere to a number of basic laws which he referred 
to constantly in the major body of his writings between 1910-13. He made 
a firm distinction between prismatic and pigmentary color, based on his 
belief that light is a coefficient of color and that color does not exist without 
light. His most frequent references were to the facts that red advances, blue 
recedes in space; black and white are determinants of color intensity; the 
interaction of juxtaposed colors depends on their position on the spectrum; 
a spinning color wheel either dilutes the intensity of the original hues or 
turns them to gray or white; large areas have a different impact and emo- 
tional value than small. 

39 See p. 309. 

40 The law of simultaneous contrast 
most simply stated, concerns the 
reciprocal modification in hue, tone, 
intensity between two juxtaposed 
colors viewed in simultaneity. 


41 Exposition H. E. Cross, Galerie 

Bernheim Jeune, Paris, April zi-May 
8, 1907; Paul Signac, Galerie Bern- 
heim Jeune, Paris, January 21- 
February 2, 1907. 

In his writings he referred to the theories of Newton and Herschel, 
Helmholz and Ogden Rood and Charles Blanc indiscriminately. He was 
also familiar with Signac's D'Eugene Delacroix au neo-impressionnisme, 
first published in 1899, the second (191 1) edition of which remained in his 
library until his death. 

Between 1906 and 19 10, Kupka experimented widely. As suggested ear- 
lier, his personal style of expression began to emerge around 1908. Yet 
obviously Kupka was dissatisfied with The Yellow Scale's inchoate or 
amorphous composition. He subsequently began to articulate his surfaces 
more visibly with strips or pastilles of color. Not surprisingly, his first ex- 
periments in this direction are congruent with his first studies of motion. In 
fact, evidence of his researches in both color and motion are contained in 
the Woman Picking Flowers series (cat. nos. 46-51). 

The function of color, as Kupka began to conceive of it, was to structure 
space. He devised a system of large colored planes which cannot be mixed 
by the eye, which are not equivalent to shading or modeling and which dic- 
tate the rhythmic structure of the composition (see cat. no. 42). Kupka 
admittedly derived this solution from the Neo-Impressionist example. He 
even referred to the planes as an enlarged pointillism. Since the first exam- 
ples of this technique are seen in his work around 1908 (see cat. no. 35), 
perhaps he was inspired by H. E. Cross' or Signac's latest work, exhibited 
in Paris in 1907. 41 

All of Kupka's written notes, starting 1910-11, express a consistent at- 
tempt to define painting as a specifically two-dimensional non-illusionistic 
activity. In this context, a plane of color can be subordinated to nothing 
else. It functions as area, hue, coefficient of light; it is a given term in a 
relationship to white, to related values or contrasting hues. In and of itself 
it determines the rhythmic structure of the perceptual field. 

The 1910 oil Family Portrait (cat. no. 44) presents a summation of 
Kupka's chromatic experiments over the preceding years. A sumptuous 
composition, built on color alone, it encompasses two different, almost con- 
tradictory notions of how color as plane may function. Divided virtually 
on the diagonal, the brilliant luminosity, broad masses and clarity of con- 
tour of the lower left triangle contrast sharply with the busy mosaic of dark 
graded colors, applied in short even square strokes, which animate the 
remaining area. 

The highly saturated planes of the woman's dress achieve a flatness un- 
precedented in Kupka's work. This is due not only to the absence of model- 
ing but to the choice and disposition of colors. As noted above, Kupka 
believed that red and warm colors advance, whereas blue and cool colors 
recede in space. Here he has reversed these axioms and the colors' usual 
roles. The areas of blue appear as broad sunstruck planes whereas the jag- 
ged red stripes elicit shadows, describing the folds and creases of the 
woman's garment as they underscore her arms, her spine, her buttocks and 
thighs. The paradox is intensified as the red becomes warmer, the blue 
colder through their juxtaposition. Finally the orange line which inscribes 
the woman's silhouette is similarly contradictory in its function. The warm- 


est color on the canvas, it has been assigned a role as shadow. Lying con- 
tiguous to areas of red, it pushes the latter hue back toward violet or blue. 
As a result of this complex color play, all the volumes in this area level out 
into a broad flat pattern of jagged shapes. 

In contrast to these broad brilliant masses, the remaining portion of the 
canvas is articulated as a dull non-reflecting mosaic pattern. The short 
tessera-like strokes are in mixed and dulled secondary, even tertiary colors, 
from deep blue to green to yellow, brown and violet. Since the local color 
is no longer white but black, most light is absorbed rather than reflected. 

Thus Family Portrait illustrates two entirely different ways of articulating 
a flat surface: the first through luminous vibration, the second through pat- 
tern. Both were legacies of Neo-Impressionism, although Kupka adapted 
the Neo-Impressionist example to different ends. j2 Although Kupka will 
continue to use the modularized brushstroke to animate a surface through 
1911, his real understanding of color was prismatic: color as a quantity and 
quality of light; planes of color generating their own optical vibration. This 
will be the basis of all his subsequent experiments. It will be an important 
factor in his dissolution of the image and evolution toward abstraction. 

Despite the pictorial tensions inherent in Family Portrait, it is essentially 
a static composition. An interpretation of space as a flattened perceptual 
field, it is structurally articulated by broad or tightly knit planes, reflection 
and refraction, contrasts and passages. 

Whereas the concurrent series Woman Picking Flowers shows the analysis 
and synthesis of a temporal progression, Large Nude and Family Portrait 
helped Kupka define his chromatic vocabulary and spatial syntax. The 
translation of a subject seen in a sequence of positions into an abstract idea 
of simultaneity and finally to abstract rhythms alone was as dependent on 
the dissolution of the object through color-light as on its temporal decom- 
position. The interpenetration of figure and space, the fusion of present and 
remembered perceptual images could only be achieved through a coinci- 
dence of spatial and temporal dimensions. 

Kupka's development toward this objective was characteristically long 
and painstaking. Between 1908 and 1910, the artist executed a series of 
pencil and colored pencil studies of movement, inspired by his stepdaughter 
Andree playing with a ball in the garden (cat. nos. 32, 45, 61, 62). One of 
these drawings (cat. no. 45) contains a dissection into planes and leads into 
the Woman Picking Flowers series. The others are based on circular motion 
and show a diagraming of corporal gestures into predominantly circular 
rhythms and an attempt to encompass figure and space in one integrated 
pattern. In a first stage, Kupka schematized the child's body according to 
its essential contours and silhouettes (cat. no. 32a). Next he superimposed 
circles on the body extending its muscular rhythms into the ambient space 
(cat. no. 32b). Occasionally at the intersections of circles and limbs (or cir- 
cles and circles), he shaded the enclosed area emphasizing its identity as a 
quadrant or plane. 

Obviously the interpenetration of figure and ground was the crucial con- 
cept in these drawings. However Kupka did not find these diagrams con- 
vincing. In the right margin of one he noted: "Here, only the surfaces are 

42. The Neo-Impressionists achieved 
luminous vibration through the 
divisionist technique in which pure 
hues, applied in juxtaposed dots, pro- 
duce an optical mixture and an opti- 
cal flicker. Although this technique 
inspired Kupka, he did not adopt it. 


dissected; the concept of atmospheric copenetration is still to be found. As 
long as there is a difference between the ground colors and the flesh, I will 
fall once again into photographic post card imagery." (cat. no. 32.b). 

The idea of "atmospheric copenetration," or fusion of figure and ground 
through the dissection of a figure into flat open planes, was to be an analyt- 
ical Cubist and Futurist concern. The French group would concentrate 
on a cohesive spatial scaffolding resulting in static and monochromatic 
imagery. The Italians, oriented toward the depiction of continuous motion, 
would tend to underplay formal spatial arrangements, resulting in dis- 
articulated images. Kupka sought to develop an organic network of color 
planes which would act as both spatial and temporal referents and generate 
dynamic visual rhythms. 

In slightly later sketches, the visual and conceptual boundaries between 
the figure as physical entity and the gesture as virtual entity, between closed 
colored planes and open-ended motion are progressively undermined. The 
Oval Mirror of 19 10 (cat. no. 53) shows an early attempt to resolve these 
contradictions on canvas. However, despite the multiplication of contours, 
the circular rhythms and the suggestion of atmospheric copenetration seen 
in this monochromatic image of reflected and actual forms, the picture re- 
mains essentially static. Finally, in Study for Amorpha, Fugue, 1910-11 (cat. 
no. 63), Kupka comes close to a solution in which the temporal dimension 
is engendered by the manipulation of color planes. 

The subject is a revolving anthropomorphic figure which, as it turns, 
assimilates aspects (light, color, space) of its environment into its own 
ambiguous silhouette. An analysis of this image reveals a composite silhou- 
ette drawn from all the studies inspired by the Girl ivith a Ball and even from 
the Womati Picking Floiaers series. The central vertical structure is common 
to them all. The kinetic dimension of the image is produced by the planes 
of color which advance or recede, become denser, dissolve or change in key, 
each transformation signifying a modified position in space and time. The 
colored rhythms in the lower area are the slowest and most compact; they 
connote legs, ambiguously clothed but partially visible, which shift from a 
frontal to a profile view, nonetheless remaining within the restricted keys 
of red and blue. 43 In contrast, the bright intersecting arabesques in the upper 
portion of the canvas, which weave in and out, forward and backward, 
elicit a compound image of swift curving gestures. These variegated loops 
composed of splintered color and light follow a chromatic progression 
which maintains their structural and temporal continuity. The dominant 
oval on the left moves rapidly through the spectrum from green to yellow 
to orange. It signifies pure gesture, a visual imprint infused with light. Con- 
versely, the smaller red and blue loop on the right, despite its flickering 
divided color, evokes a more stable presence, echoing the lower denser 
portion of the silhouette. 

The preliminary sketches described earlier reveal the morphology of this 
complex dynamic image. Yet the artist seemed to realize that this painting 
did not make his premises totally clear. His interest in cinematography and 

43 Compare the legs here to those seen his Stud y of Color the ° r >' had taU § ht him that motion is a sequence of equal 

in the Woman Picking Flowers series. consecutive phases whereas color is a juxtaposition of even consecutive 


hues and tones. Moved by a desire to make the temporal and spatial dimen- 
sions coincide in an image intelligible as color and rhythm alone, he decided 
to try a more systematic approach. He would calibrate gestures and colors 
simultaneously on a grid. 

His decision was not arbitrary. Kupka believed that the perceptual field 
appears to us as a grid structure composed of planes and accents enmeshed 
in an all-over rhythm. The last version of the Woman Picking Flowers series 
shows this eloquently. In his notes of the same years in which this series 
was executed, he described the recollection of a dream as a kind of skeletal 
grid pattern. 4 ' Elsewhere he notes: "The screen of squares one lays over a 
sketch which one intends to enlarge gives it a rhythm. This is probably due 
to the fact that it thus acquires a unity, a dominant element.'" 15 

In contrast to the elliptical imagery of Study for Amorpha, Fugue, 
Planes by Colors of the same year (cat. no. 59) is a gridded or screened 
image of the same subject, a figure pivoting in space. The central axis of the 
radiating motion is blue; it denotes the densest and purest color and the 
most compacted action. As the arms pivot around this core, they dissolve 
in motion, mix with light and slide through the spectrum from shades of 
green to yellow-greens to oranges and yellows. In contrast to the densely 
woven concentrated image of the trunk of the figure, the gestures retain little 
presence. The transparent prisms imply gestures which have been, are or will 
be. Redefined as equal intervals in space, equal intervals in time, equal 
intervals on the color spectrum, the figure's limbs have the presence or non- 
presence of after-images; they are trace imprints in light, space and time. 

Kupka's support was two-dimensional. Yet any image of rotational 
movement carries connotations of virtual volume or depth. In order to dis- 
pel this illusion, once again Kupka reversed the color-values' usual roles, 
placing the most luminous tints or light-reflecting values in the background 
and the darker cooler tones in the frontal plane. The result of this reverse 
chiaroscuro is a unified surface plane. 

Planes by Colors inspires two chromatic readings. For both interpre- 
tations, one must imagine a view of the figure from the top in which the 
torso acts as a central blue core or axis. The first reading likens the con- 
figuration to a traditional color wheel in which each consecutive gesture, 
attached to the center, corresponds to a different chromatic segment leading 
out from the nucleus. The second reading again takes the torso as a core, 
this time circumscribed by continuous bands or haloes of color, from a red- 
green around the central axis to ever lighter shades of orange and green and 
finally to a yellow-white at the outer rim. Both interpretations are based 
on the notion of an even progression of color, either around a circle in 
juxtaposed wedges, or rippling out in circumscribed bands. 46 

Now that Kupka had developed a new pictorial syntax based on even 
and consecutive time-space intervals, he returned to the more ambiguously 
dynamic Study for Amorpha, Fugue and recast its essential imagery. In Red 
and Blue Disks (cat. no. 71), he reduced the gesturing figure shifting on the 
grass to a red-blue core. Taking each gesture of the original image, he trans- 
lated it into a chain of axially-connected, overlapping disks rippling out- 
ward from the center. Each evenly cadenced chain of disks — like transparent 

44 For exact quotation, see p. 61. 

45 Kupka, Manuscript I, p. 26 (incor- 
rectly numbered 22). 

46 Of course, a third reading (see pp. 63- 
64 above) is that of vertical planes 
lined up in spectral progression 
across the two-dimensional surface 
of the canvas. 


47 Ogden N. Rood, Modern Chromatics 
with Applications to Art and In- 
dustry, London, 1879, p. 26 (French 
translation Theorie scientifique des 
conleurs, Paris, 1881, p. 16.) 

circular blades of color whirling out from the center— is limited virtually to 
a single key. The upper left segment is predominantly yellow. Consecutively, 
and counter-clockwise, color progresses to green, then to blue in the lower 
right area and up through a deep orange to light oranges and reds. Although 
this sequence of chromatic zones follows loosely the order of the spectrum, 
as well as the chromatic order in the original painting, the complex inter- 
lacing of orders in time and layers in space destroys any literal reading. The 
ripples of swiveling color and light are as ephemeral as a gesture. Yet they 
transcend the notion of bodily movement to suggest cosmic motion in time 
and space. 

Since Kupka conceived of man as a microcosm of a greater order, whose 
being reflects those grander rhythms, his passage from the human to the 
cosmic dimension was pictorially logical and consistent with his beliefs. 
1911 is the year of passage from figuration to abstraction, from the par- 
ticular to the universal, from the phenomenal world to the noumenal idea. 

The next series, the Disks of Newton of 1911-12, are pure studies of color. 
All allusions to earthly experience, that is, allusions to human time and 
space have been discarded. References to human displacement, modeling, 
shading, perspective are irrelevant. The imagery is situated in a cosmic void. 

The first Disks of Newton (cat. no. 73) comprises three series of disks 
set off against a black or dark blue background. The largest disk configura- 
tion consists of concentric bands of color laid out according to Herschel 
and Young's color table. This table was published in Ogden Rood's Modern 
Chromatics of 1879. 47 Kupka copied it and referred to it frequently, pre- 
ferring it to Newton's theories which he found outdated. The Herschel- 
Young table calculated the relative length, density and velocity of the wave 
lengths of color, from red (shortest waves, lowest number per square inch, 
lowest number per second) to purple (longest waves, highest number per 
square inch, highest number per second). This analysis of color became 
fundamental to Kupka's thinking. He even devised a theory of the shapes 
of color which he illustrated in a series of paintings after World War I. 
(see cat. no. 168) 

Kupka knew that a spinning disk alters if it does not annihilate its own 
color. The pure clearly differentiated hues of the upper disk imply that it 
is static. By contrast, the two remaining disks have no secure identity; they 
draw their tenuous substance and hues— like those of a rainbow— from the 
dominant image behind them. The spiraling circle in the right foreground, 
as it cuts through the bands of pure color behind it, generates three circum- 
scribed bands of prismatic mixtures. As the disk in the lower left shifts 
forward in three consecutive phases, it is transmuted from a compartmented 
arc in the key of blue, to a continuous band in its complementary orange, 
then yellow, to a spinning disk of pure white light. 

Situated between the Planes by Color and Amorpha, Fugue (cat. no. 92.), 
one would be tempted to call this painting "Theme and Variations on 
Color." The parts or voices are distinctly separate yet entirely interde- 
pendent and clearly derived from one and the same theme. The organic 
structure and rhythmic counterpoint make this painting a fitting prelude 
to the Fugue. 


The second Disks of Newton (cat. no. 75) is more densely woven, more 
ambiguous, more dynamic. Although it evolves directly from the Red and 
Blue Disks, the composition is completely severed from its original anthro- 
pomorphic inspiration and severed from the bottom edge of the canvas; 
the disks swirl and revolve freely in space. 

In the Red and Blue Disks, each cluster of colored disks fanned out along 
a radial axis in a tonal progression from the center of the composition to 
the frame. Each of these zones of graded color was juxtaposed laterally to 
its contiguous color zone on the color wheel so that a sense of consecutive 
movement around a center was achieved. In the Disks of Neivton, Kupka 
abandons these methodical sequences. Although the zones of light and 
color echo the original composition as the transparent disks radiate out 
from the center, and although broad areas of the painting are still defined 
by a dominant hue, the distribution of color is less systematic. Interspersed 
accents of complementaries and random mixtures with white or black 
heighten the intensity of the composition through contrast. 

The transparent webbing of the colored disks destroys any illusion of 
volume or depth. Although the red center advances toward the viewer and 
anchors the image at some point in space, the spinning haloes massed 
around it are spatially undetermined. Thus Kupka arrives at a more im- 
mediate and intuitive dynamic image based on the tensions generated by 
form and color alone, finally freed from subject matter, illusionistic devices 
and theoretical premises. 

Kupka's Disks of Neivton are often compared to the solar disks of Robert 
Delaunay. The comparison is apt, although the relationship between the 
two artists is not clear. Kupka and Delaunay had many friends in common, 
artists and writers who visited back and forth between Paris and Puteaux. 
Delaunay himself visited Puteaux upon occasion. Although Kupka was a 
member of the Puteaux group starting in 1911, his participation in their 
activities was sporadic. Older than most of the participating artists, ac- 
cording to some eyewitnesses he was upset because they did not consider 
him a mentor. 48 He also felt they leaned too far toward Cubism. Further- 
more, he was known to complain bitterly that when he showed them his 
work, they picked up his ideas. By 19 13, according to his correspondence 
with Roessler 49 and other first-hand accounts, he had retired into relative 
seclusion. 50 

Clearly, Kupka was never a Cubist. He passed directly from a form of 
Fauvism to a post-Cubist idiom, in which spatial structure derived from 
units of color and motion, two pictorial components which were outside 
the sphere of pure Cubist theory and practice. Still more peculiar to Kupka's 
personal style was his identification of consecutive color with consecutive 
motion, or a sequential unfolding of measures of color. Ultimately, as we 
have seen, through his interpenetration of space and time, he arrived at the 
dissolution of the object and sublimated it into an abstract image of the 
kinetic dimension. Thus he bypassed Futurism as well. 

Delaunay, on the other hand, was more closely involved with the Cubist 
and Neo-Impressionist traditions, as expressed through fragmentation, con- 
trast and complementarity of forms, light and color. His 1909-11 Eiffel 

48 Interviews (1974) with Gabrielle 
Buffet-Picabia, who attended the 
Puteaux meetings and Juliette 
Gleizes. Although Mme. Gleizes was 
not present at the meetings, she re- 
ported her husband's impressions. 

49 See p. 47 above. 

50 Again, Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia 
reported that the Puteaux artists 
complained that Kupka refused to 
participate in their discussions, even 
though he lived next door to Villon's 
house, where weekly meetings were 


Towers, for example, are disjointed and twisted in a writhing spatial con- 
tinuum. Rising among tortured cityscapes, shards of light and burgeoning 
or brittle cloud formations, they are beautiful and broken images whose 
intensity is enhanced by sharply defined color contrasts. As Apollinaire said 
about Delaunay's paintings of this period, they showed "forms fractured 
by light." 

Only his most nuanced works, the 19 12 Windows series, show a subtle 
unification of plane, color and light. The diffuse flicker which skims the 
surface of these paintings is punctuated by passages and contrasts much in 
the manner of Cezanne. Here color generates a web of structure; the laws 
of complementarity are ignored. 

Delaunay's Disks, or Sun and Moon pictures, begun in 19 13, on the con- 
trary show a more contrasted palette. The segments of flat pure pigment 
suggest a more systematic approach to color. In these paintings, Delaunay 
sought to portray motion through color interaction. At first glance, many 
of his Disks appear more lively than Kupka's evenly scaled progressions. 
However a closer look reveals that the former are singularly non-dynamic. 
Just as a spinning color wheel loses its intensity— dissolving into tonal 
values or becoming gray or white— the brightly contrasted intervals of 
Delaunay's Disks arrest them peremptorily in space. 

Although at least one of Delaunay's Disks is dated 19 12, no works of 
this series were exhibited in his January 1913 one-man exhibition in Berlin. 
He sent three paintings to the New York Armory Show in March 1913, but 
no Disks were among them. His first references to them are in his letters 
of April to June 1913. In particular, in a letter to Macke of June 1913, he 
expresses his excitement about these new works based on the structure of 
color. He first exhibited his Disks late in 1913, at the Berlin Herbstsalon. 
They were not shown in France until after World War I. 51 

Without drawing any conclusions about the nature of Delaunay's re- 
lationship to Kupka, the priority of Kupka's circular color forms can be 
securely argued. Furthermore, Kupka's interest in rotational form went far 
beyond the theorizing about motion, color and light then in fashion. The 
study of these phenomena were merely dimensions of Kupka's concept of 
the function of painting, which was to capture the rhythmic unity and 
diversity of the cosmos. As we have seen, Kupka's development followed 
a single unswerving path: from the microcosm of human experience to the 
intuited rhythms of the Final Cause. 

51 The author is grateful to Virginia 
Spate for clarifying the dates and 
facts relating to Delaunay's Disks. 

Kupka and the Cosmic Order 

The Final Cause was in fact Kupka's primary cause. It is evident that a 
teleological vision was the subliminal source of Kupka's aesthetic. His early 
mystical experiences, his clairvoyant sensibility, his exposure to German 
Romantic philosophy, Theosophy and occult disciplines shaped an ap- 
proach to the work of art, even in formal terms, which set him apart from 
his French contemporaries. Despite his attempts to rid himself of the in- 
fluences of his Central European background, the imprint of his original 
intellectual and spiritual milieu would leave an indelible mark. What Kupka 


learned in Paris, concerning motion, color and the function of painting 
itself, was a vocabulary and syntax with which to express his inner vision. 
But his vision would remain peculiarly his own. 

For Kupka, the mission of the artist was a cosmic one, and this point of 
view, as well as the style and content of his thinking as seen in his 1910-11 
notes, show a definite debt to Goethe. Kupka obviously read Goethe in 
Prague or Vienna; Goethe was one of the most pervasive cultural influences 
of the time. Even earlier, Studnicka may have referred to Goethe's color 
theory. However any early knowledge was surely revitalized by Kupka's 
reading of Rudolf Steiner who, starting in 1883, edited and annotated 
Goethe's writings on art and published his own essays on Goethe's aes- 
thetics. Through Steiner, many aspects of Goethe's artistic philosophy fil- 
tered into the basic ideology of the Munich Theosophical group. 

Kupka's most fundamental premises— that nature has a spiritual reality 
determined by final causes, that the hidden laws of this reality are present 
in all of nature's manifestations including man and that the artist's function 
is to make visible these laws, not by copying nature but by creating a 
parallel order— spring from Goethe's aesthetic. More specifically, Kupka's 
terminology echoes Steiner's formulation of Goethe's thought. For example, 
Steiner discusses Goethe's discovery that "the Beautiful is not ... an Idea 
in the form of a sensory phenomenon, but a sensory phenomenon in the 
form of an Idea.""* 2 Parallel to this, Kupka noted on the first page of his 
1910-n notebook, "Formerly I was seeking to give form to an idea; now 
I am seeking the idea which corresponds to the form." 53 

In this context, Kupka's philosophy of art presents striking analogies 
with that of Kandinsky. This was apparent even during Kupka's lifetime, 
since he always argued defensively that he discovered Kandinsky's Uber das 
Geistige in der Kunst in 19 13, when his ideas and his abstraction were 
already fully formulated. The most obvious similarities in the two artists' 
thought are in the concept of a hidden necessity or hidden laws in nature; 
the idea that art does not copy nature but is subjected to the same cos- 
mic order; and the notion that whereas the artist's vision or interpretation 
of the universal order may be subjective, the means of transmission— the 
medium— must be objective. 54 Since both Kupka and Kandinsky were in- 
debted to Goethe's aesthetic and to Steiner's interpretation of it 55 , it seems 
apparent that neither artist influenced the other but both were drawing on 
the same source. 

Kupka's study of the natural sciences was consistent with his ideology. 
Through a better understanding of natural causes, rhythms, structures and 
progressions, he hoped to develop a parallel vision, order and language. 
His interest in physiology, biology and astronomy therefore had their roots 
in mystical thought. By extension, he paid acute attention to his own sense 
impressions and evoked coenesthesis as a form of access to higher knowl- 
edge. Through a close observation of his own body's rhythms, reactions to 
stimuli, sense perceptions, emotional responses, he attempted to develop a 
sixth sense, an extrasensory receptivity which he believed led to a state of 
superconsciousness, a term Kupka appropriated from H. P. Blavatsky. 

52 See discussion in Sixten Ringbom, 
"Art in 'The Epoch of the Great 
Spiritual,' " journal of the "Warburg 
and Courtauld Institutes, London, 
XXIX, 1966, pp. 390-391. 

53 Kupka, Manuscript I, p. 1. 

54 Seep. 48 above. 

55 See Ringbom, op. cit., for discussion 
of Kandinsky in this context. 


The Theosophical concept of superconsciousness is equivalent to that of 
clairvoyant vision or a hypnotized trance. In this experience the perceiver's 
relationship to matter and space is altogether different from that of con- 
scious perception. The objects perceived exist as disconnected fragments; 
they have no defined spatial position, no volume, no gravity. They have no 
utilitarian function, no relation to the laws of lived or conceptualized 
reality. They are seen only in terms of intensity of existence, profundity of 
significance and relations within their immediate pattern. 56 Space itself, 
free from the constraints of conceptual thought, is determined by neither 
depth nor relationships; it does not exist as an organic whole. Colors have 
the intensity of preternatural and non-verbalized experience. Supercon- 
sciousness allows one to see worlds in a plot of grass, as Kupka said to 
Roessler in 1913. 57 

Through his experience as a medium and his life-long receptivity to 
visions, Kupka was predisposed to superconsciousness and conversant with 
the kind of perceptions it made accessible. In an early letter from Paris to 
Roessler, Kupka describes a clairvoyant vision which is revealing of the 
extra-worldly dimension of his experience— the insights and images which 
he accepted as quite normal: "Yesterday I had a mood of split conscious- 
ness where it seemed that I was observing the globe from the outside. I 
was in great empty space and saw the planets rolling quietly. After that it 
was difficult to come back to the trivia of everyday life." 51 

Since Kupka believed that the artist was a visionary, his clairvoyant per- 
ceptions were eminently meaningful to him as reflections of a supercon- 
scious state. They provided the structure of much of his imagery. In 1912- 
13, he described the artist's relationship to inner visions in the following 

56 Many of the terms used here are 
borrowed from Aldous Huxley's 
descriptions of the mescalin experi- 
ence, in The Doors of Perception and 
Heaven and Hell, New York, 1963, 
particularly p. 2.0. The drug-induced 
trance is comparable to the experi- 
ence of clairvoyance or hypnosis. 

57 See p. 47 above. 

58 Letter to Roessler, February 7, 1897. 

59 Kupka, Manuscript II, p. 28. 

60 Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater, 
Thought-Forms, Wheaton, Illinois, 
1971, p. 27. First published in English 
in 1 901, French translation 1905, 
German translation, 1908. The author 
is grateful to Yvonne Hagen for 
bringing this book to her attention. 

61 See Ringbom, op. cit., pp. 397-398 
and his fn. 73. 

In our inner visions, the different fragments which float in our heads are inco- 
herently situated in space. Even in remembered so-called representative images 
of organic complexes, they are so strangely situated that the painter . . . who 
woidd wish to project them would have to go even beyond the fourth dimension. 
Some parts penetrate each other; others seem completely detached, discon- 
nected from the organism to which they are supposed to belong. The same is 
true of purely subjective visions where often only fragments, plexuses of forms, 
or colors are given. Before we can seize them and set them down, we must draw 
lines between them and establish a structural coherence. But often they will 
never form a coherent, logical or intelligible whole. 59 

Thus the artist organizes his imaginary or mental images and tries to 
project them in concrete form. A Theosophical text about clairvoyant 
images, Annie Besant's and C. W. Leadbeater's Thought-Forms, formulates 
the same visualizing process: ". . . the painter who forms a conception of the 
future picture builds it up out of the matter of his mental body, and then 
projects it into space in front of him, keeps it before his mind's eye, and 
copies it." 60 Although this particular passage refers to figurative images de- 
rived from material objects, another passage evokes images (or "thought- 
forms") which express pure feeling or thought. Apparently the Nabis and 
the Cubists knew this text, and Kandinsky referred to it frequently. 61 


Kupka's visionary sensibility and his cosmic philosophy united to form a 
peculiar notion of higher reality. In turn, this notion of a higher reality in- 
fluenced his concept of space. His mystical background helps us to under- 
stand the fundamental spatial contradictions in his art. Although Kupka 
spoke frequently, sometimes obsessively, of the two-dimensional specificity 
of the painter's art, at other times he as easily evoked the fourth or fifth 
dimension. This theoretical inconsistency is reflected equally strongly in his 
paintings. Only occasional works can be defined as strictly two-dimensional. 
More often, there is an ambiguous allusion to spatial depth, a fourth di- 
mension which, as defined by Apollinaire, "represents the immensity of 
space eternalizing itself in all directions at any given moment. It is space it- 
self, the dimension of the infinite . . . " 62 

In fact, it would be valid to say that Kupka's theories were not only in- 
consistent, they were incompatible with his vision. His vision, based on 
forms in nature elevated to the status of an idea, dictated his images and 
their spatial context. Many components of his vision are recognizable. They 
derive from crystals of frost on a window, the organic structure of a flower, 
stalactite and stalagmite concretions, the concentric ripples of water, pre- 
historic Celtic stone formations, banks of clouds, photographs or models of 
the moon and planets. Kupka selected these phenomena as manifestations 
of major natural laws. Disembodied as they passed through the filter of his 
superconsciousness, the incarnate laws were translated into abstract pic- 
torial ideas. 

Kupka's concept of cosmic rhythms and cosmic space is most literally 
depicted in the body of work inspired by reproductions of the moon. The 
artist may have seen the large-scale model of the moon displayed at Uccle 
where he visited Onesime Reclus in 1909. S3 He devoured journals on astron- 
omy and was an assiduous visitor to the Observatoire, the Palais de la 
Decouverte and the Musee des Arts et Metiers, where photographs of the 
moon and planets were displayed. 

Kupka appropriated the image of the moon and the space surrounding it 
first almost literally, then as a basic spatial framework for many studies of 
the period 1909-14. In the latter case he created an infinite undetermined 
space of cosmic implications within which can be seen a reminiscence of the 
moon's surface (cat. nos. 77-78). This lunar impression remains at an unde- 
fined distance from the surface plane. Sometimes it suggests concavity, a 
tunnelling through space to boundless depths; at other times the back- 
ground appears as a bulge, which nonetheless never disrupts the frontal 

A series of paintings started in 19 n effectively and explicitly captures this 
infinite yet ambiguous recessive depth (cat. nos. 80, 81). Pulsating organic 
matter and free-floating clouds swell forward, in sharp contrast to a dra- 
matic thrust into luminous and infinite depth in the central area. The circu- 
lar rhythms which inform the whole composition project a sense of dynamic 
biomorphic growth and cosmic gravitation. Some more reductive studies 
which continue to explore this kind of space show a silhouette of revolving 
intertwined bands in the left foreground, set off against a luminous zone of 

61 Apollinaire, Les Peintres cubistes, 
1913, Chapter 3. English translation 
from Edward F. Fry, op. cit., p. 116. 

(see fn. 31). 

63 This hypothesis was first suggested 
by Fedit in her preface to exhibition 
catalogue, Kupka avant 1914, Paris, 
Galerie Karl Flinker, 1966, n.p. 


infinitely receding color, bounded on the right by an arc of light. Again a 
nebulous sense of perspective is created. 

The cosmic theme could assimilate and reinforce other pictorial pre- 
occupations such as rotational dynamics and the theatrical use of colored 
light. Arbitrary spatial articulation was also justified by it. For inasmuch as 
cosmic gravitation implies attraction to a pole which may be anywhere in 
space, Kupka was freed from the necessity of dealing with gravity or per- 
spective in conventional terms. 

Kupka's emancipation from traditional spatial conventions was essential 
to his vision and is illustrated in a broad variety of themes initiated during 
the period 1911-14. These themes provided the formal and conceptual 
framework of his oeuvre for approximately the next fifteen years. Through- 
out their development, his forms shifted back and forth between biomor- 
phic and geometric schemata, softly graded tonal compositions and brittle 
brightly contrasted patterns. But the artist's preoccupations remained con- 
sistent: the rhythms of growth or expansion, consecutive or cyclical motion, 
the dynamic interplay of color and light. 

The painting Around a Point (cat. no. 160) is the consummate expression 
of Kupka's vision. The clear syncopated rhythms of dissected circles spin- 
ning around telescoping axes, the chromatic juxtapositions which recall the 
highlights and tonal shading of floral and faunal nature, intermittently 
broken or fused by zones of hot white light and, finally, the monumental 
scale of the image which swells to bursting beyond the frame, evoke a su- 
preme cosmic vision. 

64 Apollinaire, op. cit., Chapter 7. En- 
glish translation from Fry, op. cit., p. 

65 See Nicolas Bauduin, "Les Temps 
heroiques, a propos du Salon de la 
Section d'Or," Masques et Visages, 
no. 39, June 1956^.7. 

66 See pp. 310-11, fn. 6. 

Most histories of twentieth-century art identify Kupka as an Orphic 
painter. Orphism, or Orphic Cubism, as defined by Apollinaire "is the art 
of painting new structures with elements which have not been borrowed 
from the visual sphere, but have been created entirely by the artist himself, 
and been endowed by him with fullness of reality. The works of the orphic 
artist must simultaneously give a pure aesthetic pleasure; a structure which 
is self-evident; and a sublime meaning, that is, a subject. This is pure art." 64 
Apollinaire's examples included Picasso, Delaunay, Leger, Picabia and Du- 
champ. Kupka's name is not mentioned. 

Apollinaire coined his definition in the autumn of 1912, apparently at the 
Section d'Or exhibition. Eyewitnesses writing several decades later reported 
that Apollinaire invented the term in front of Kupka's paintings, calling 
attention to their self-generating dynamics ("cette peinture puisant son 
dynamisme en elle-meme") and comparing them to music. 65 There is still 
some question as to whether this event actually took place. 66 In any case, 
Kupka was never satisfied with the Orphic designation. He expressed his 
displeasure on many occasions, explaining that a comparison of his work 
with music was an extreme simplification, and solely based on the inclusion 
of musical terms in his titles. 

Apollinaire's understanding of Kupka's art as representative of Orphic 
Cubism is not only a simplification but inexact. Kupka's reference to music 


or poetry was of no more significance than that of Seurat or Signac or any 
of the other artists who evoked the notion of correspondences between the 
arts. In Kupka's case, the musical terms were intended to discourage the 
viewer from looking for literal subject matter and stimulate him to consider 
chromatic and structural rhythms alone. Although Kupka's art may be 
superficially related to Cubism in his rejection of volume and perspective, 
his aesthetic may as plausibly be associated with that of many other artists. 
It echoes Seurat in the combination of the metaphysical and the scientific; it 
is parallel to Futurism in the artist's understanding of motion and light as 
the only two forces which can penetrate and dissolve matter; it shows anal- 
ogies with Mondrian and Kandinsky in its reference to a cosmic order. 

On a more fundamental level, Apollinaire's terminology is inappropriate 
in that it reflects the emphasis, common among writers of the period 19 10- 
13, upon the priority of the conceptual over the perceptual experience. For 
the Cubist painter, the conceptual reality of an object was superior to its 
perceived reality. He therefore complemented what he saw with what he 
knew, moving around the object to capture all facets of its outer appearance 
and presenting them in simultaneity. 

Apollinaire notwithstanding, Kupka did borrow from the visual sphere, 
as did all the artists the poet named in this context. Kupka's subject was 
perceptual reality. His aesthetic did not allow him to discard the forms of 
nature and, like the Cubists and even Kandinsky and Mondrian, distill his 
lived experience into abstract schemas and ciphers. For Kupka, the spiritual 
reality or cosmic order which governs nature is present in natural forms. 
Fhe phenomenon is not a symbol; it is an order incarnate. And without the 
particular configuration of each manifestation in the phenomenal world, 
the order, idea or noumen would be invisible and inaccessible to human 

For Kupka, the artist's role is to decipher the idea inherent in the phenom- 
ena of perceptual experience, and to present concrete forms where the idea 
is clearly visible. Thus Kupka aspired to an imagery in which a richness of 
sensuous presence, a clarity of structure, and rhythmic implications of dy- 
namic change would simultaneously express the true nature of experience 
in both physical and metaphysical terms. 



by Margit Rowell 

The chronology and dating of the individual works are the author's. It must be 
remembered that Kupka rarely dated works at the time of their execution. Most of 
his dates were given retrospectively at the time of his 1946 Prague exhibition. The 
dates of the present catalogue are based on exhibition histories, the artist's notes 
and letters, and stylistic considerations. 

Citations of Fedit and Vachtova refer to Denise Fedit, L'Oeuvre de Kupka, Paris, 
1966 and Ludmila Vachtova, Frank Kupka, Pioneer of Abstract Art, New York and 
Toronto, 1968. 

Complete information is cited here only for exhibitions which do not recur and in 
which only one or two works appear. Full information for all other exhibitions 
is given in the selected exhibitions list, pp. 318 to 322.. * denotes one-man show. 
Names of exhibitions are given only for Salons; the names of galleries are included 
but museum names are listed only when necessary to distinguish between two or 
more exhibitions taking place in the same city in one year. In cases of traveling 
exhibitions with a single catalogue, only the year in which the show originated 
is given. However in circulating exhibitions where each institution produced its 
own catalogue, or where the painting was not shown at all participating museums, 
separate dates are listed. 

MNAM is Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris 

MOMA, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 

NG, Narodni Galerie, Prague 

SRGM, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

fdenotes not in exhibition 


1 1 Money (U Argent). 1899 

Oil on canvas, 31 7s x 31 %" 
(81 x 81 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 16, repr. p. 44 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

Jindrich Waldes 

to present owner, 1940 


*Pisek— CeskeBudejovice, 1961, 
no. 1 

Dobruska, 1962 

"Prague, 1968, no. 11, repr. 

One of Kupka's more obviously Symbolist paintings, Money shows the influence 
of Segantini (in the fine pin-striping of the woman's body) and of Ensor (in the 
row of demonic figures in the right background and in the palette). Segantini was 
well known in Eastern and Western Europe at the turn of the century and exhibited 
in Vienna in 1896 and 1898 in shows Kupka probably saw. He also exhibited in 
Paris in 1898 and his work was widely reproduced. As for Ensor, the gallery 
La Plume held a retrospective of his work in 1898, and the magazine of the same 
name devoted a special issue to him. Kupka himself exhibited prints at the gallery 
in 1899, and the Ensor issue of La Plume remained in his library until his death. 

A pastel drawing of the same subject is signed and dated 1899 (NG, Prague). 
A dedication to Machar was added later. The theme of the lurid fascination of 
money would be taken up again in Kupka's 1902 illustrations for L'Assiette au 
beurre. The woman depicted is Kupka's friend Gabrielle. 



1 2 The Way of Silence (La Voie du 
Silence). 1900? 

Pastel on paper, 22% x 25%" 

(58.1 x 65 cm.) 

Signed and inscribed Ir "Kupka quam 

ad causam sumus" 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

Jindrich Waldes 

to present owner, 1940 

Although drawn in Paris, the subject of sphinxes and the philosophical query 
"Quam ad causutn sumus" ("Why are we here?") are carry-overs from the artist's 
Viennese years. When Kupka arrived in Paris, he tried to escape from what he 
considered decadent metaphysical inquiry and find his sources of inspiration in 
the perceptual world. Nonetheless, until c. 1902-03, themes of this sort persist. 
The central figure is the artist's self-portrait. 


3 Black Idol or Defiance (L'Idole 
noire or La Resistance, La Revoke, 
L'Entetement). 1900 

Colored aquatint, ijVs x 15" 
(44.8 x 38.2. cm.) 

Signed lr"Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 1, repr. 
Vachtova, addenda cat. no. 1 

Collection The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York, 
Gift of Andree Martinel-Kupka, 1975 


the artist 

Andree Martinel-Kupka 

to present owner, gift 

1 Slatkine reprints, Geneva, 1968, p. 49. 

Among the several titles of this aquatint, the Prague version is called La Resistance, 
the Paris version L'Entetement, and photographs which remained in Kupka's 
possession were marked on the back La Revoke. All seemed to mean essentially 
the same thing to Kupka, best translated in English as Defiance, and all were 
probably added somewhat later. The aquatint is an illustration for Poe's "Dream- 
land," in which the first stanza reads: 

By a route obscure and lonely, 

Haunted by ill angels only, 

Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, 

On a black throne reigns upright, 

I have reached these lands but newly, 

From an ultimate dim Thule— 

From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime, 

Out of SPACE -out of TIME. 

Kupka did many variations on this theme (mostly pencil drawings) in which the 
idol is seen facing different directions. It is interesting to compare Kupka's image 
to a drawing by Fernand Fau, reproduced in La Plume, no. 234, of January 15, 
1899, ' representing Le Destin (Fate) as a monumental and menacing single statue- 
like figure seated amidst the ripples of a whirlpool. 

According to Fedit (p. 29), there was a painting on this theme (present where- 
abouts unknown). 


The Beginning of Life or Water 
Lilies (Les Nenuphars). 1900 

Colored aquatint, 13% x i3 5 /s" 
(34.5x34.5 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 2, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 10 889-Gr.) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 

1 Quoted from Robert Welsh, in Piet 
Mondrian, 1872-1944: Centennial 
Exhibition, New York, The Solomon 
R. Guggenheim Museum, 1971, p. 46. 

Known both as Water Lilies and The Beginning of Life, the first title is surely 
incorrect. Since this is probably the illustration of a Theosophical idea, the flowers 
are certainly lotus. This identification of the flowers is supported by the watercolor, 
The Soul of the Lotus (1898) in which exactly the same blossoms are found. The 
Theosophical subject is described by Madame Blavatsky in Isis Unveiled (first 
published in 1877): "Man is a little world— a microcosm inside the great universe. 
Like a foetus, he is suspended by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macro- 
cosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in sympathy with its parent earth, his 
astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. . . ." I The depiction of 
the fetus is quite naturalistic, reflecting Kupka's interest in the natural sciences. The 
coloring and atmosphere of Kupka's aquatints of this period evoke Redon, an artist 
he knew and admired not only for his use of color but for his mystical insights. 


5 The Witches (Les Sorcieres). 

Pastel on paper, io 1 /^ x ioVi" 
(z6 x 2.6 cm.) 


Collection Nancy Schwartz 


the artist 

Estate of the artist 

Karl Flinker 

to present owner 

This pastel may be inspired by Kupka's interest in Edgar Allen Poe, and may even 
allude to Poe's "The Black Cat," a story which illustrates the superstitious belief 
that a black cat is a witch in disguise. This pastel relates to a group of drawings 
of c. 1898-1900 in which Kupka depicted women identified as witches in mys- 
terious, sometimes supernatural, settings. Some of these drawings reveal a debt to 
Felicien Rops, another artist published by La Phone, whom Kupka admired. The 
most prominent woman, with blond hair, probably represented Maria Bruhn. 
Gabrielle is seated behind her on the right. The rocks in the foreground resemble 
those found on the seacoast at Tregastel where Kupka spent the summer of 1900. 
They are found in many works of 1900-01. 


\G Illustration for Sova's Ballad. 

Ink on paper, n 3 A xS" 
(30 x 2.0. z cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(K 12.397) 


the artist 

to present owner, 1949 

This is a preliminary drawing for the illustrations of Balada o jednom cloveku a 
jeho radostech [Ballad of a Man and his joys], by the Czech poet Antonin Sova 
(1864-1928), published in 1903. The Narodni Galerie, Prague, owns at least two 
of these drawings which show Kupka's typical illustrational style of the period. 
The two women in this drawing, here mounted on men's shoulders, are the same 
as those on horseback in Ballad-Joys (cat. no. 8). This motif, together with the 
similar title, suggests that the literary work may have been a catalyst for the 

t7 Study for Ballad-Joys. 1901-02 

Colored crayons on white paper, 
17% x nVs" (44.1 x 28.3 cm.) 


Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

Jindfich Waldes 

to present owner, 1940 

In sharp contrast to the many academic studies Kupka did for Ballad-Joys, this 
drawing shows a completely dematerialized silhouette seemingly composed of 
auras of colored light. The supernatural impression produced suggests an astral 
rather than a physical portrait of Kupka's friend Gabrielle. 

s 9 



|8 Ballad- Joys (Epona-ballade). 

Oil on wood, 32% x 49%" 
(83.5 x 126.5 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i90i" 

Vachtova, no. 17, repr. p. 51; color 
pi. 1 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

K. E. Schmidt, 1902 
George Barbier, Paris 
Jindrich Waldes, May 1932 
to present owner, 1940 


Paris, 1902, no. 663, repr. 

St. Louis, 1904, no. 165 (as Joy) 

"Prague, 1906, no. 56 

''Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 2 

(dated 1902) 
''Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 3 (dated 

*Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, 

no. 2 
Hluboke— Brno, 1966, no. 221 
''Prague, 1968, no. 12, repr. 
"Belgrade, 1969, no. 1, repr. 

When Kupka painted this canvas, he was deeply immersed in the study of pagan 
antiquity and symbolism. The painting is sometimes called Epona-ballade, a title 
found on a label on the reverse, which refers to the Roman goddess Epona, pro- 
tectress of horses, mules and donkeys. Perhaps of Celtic origin, she was particularly 
honored in Gaul, Germania and the valley of the Danube. 

However Kupka's personal symbolism may be more complex. In letters to 
Machar of around the same period, he wrote that he felt as vigorous as a colt 
and was doing many studies of horses. The two women depicted have been identi- 
fied as his past and present loves, Maria Bruhn and Gabrielle. Since the Sova 
illustration (cat. no. 6) shows the same two women on human male mounts, the 
horses here may be symbolic of male partners, or even of Kupka himself. 

That Kupka's ambitions were more general or allegorical is indicated in a letter 
to Machar of 1902: "Using subtle, quite simple means I want to express something 
of what I felt when I used to sit alone on the seashore .... The seashore and the 
clouds are humming with some unknown joy. In the air thousands of elves seem 
to dance about joyfully .... All of us have a desire for joy, for some pure immaterial 
feeling of well-being. I want everyone who sees the picture to experience such 
feelings . . . ." (quoted in Vachtova, p. 45) 

The seascape which also appears in many gouaches of the period is inspired 
by the beaches at Tregastel in Brittany. The fine pastel pin-striping threaded with 
white in the sky once again shows Kupka's divisionist style (see cat. no. 1), seen 
here probably for the last time. When Ballad was exhibited at the 1902 Salon 
National des Beaux-Arts, the landscape included high rock formations in the right 
background. At this time, the painting belonged to Kupka's friend the German art 
historian K. E. Schmidt. A gouache dedicated to Schmidt depicting the same forma- 
tions is in The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Window on the Beach, prob- 
ably 1901, The Joan and Lester Avnet Collection). By 1903, when the painting was 
reproduced in the Czech magazine Volne Smery, the background rocks had been 
painted out. This canvas was obviously important to Kupka, as he showed it 
frequently in the years after it was painted. Ballad-Joys is probably his last symbolic 


Horsemen (Les Cavaliers). 

India ink on paper, 16 x 2i 1 / 4" 
(40.5 x 54 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 

Paris (AM 2771— D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 

Emile Reynaud, Praxinoscope, invented 
1876, patented 1877. 

At least three small pencil sketches on the same theme exist: The Museum of 
Modern Art, New York, Study Collection; Collection Karl Flinker, Paris; Narodnf 
Galerie drawings collection, Prague. However none of them contribute to a more 
secure dating. 

For a discussion of this drawing, see p. 54. 


io The Sleeper (La Dormeuse). 1902 

Etching, 7V8 x 4%" (18 x 12.5 cm.) 
Signed 11 in plate "Kupka" 
Vachtova, repr. p. 112. (dated 1907) 
Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


1 in Contes inedits d'Edgar Foe, trans- 
lated from the English by William L. 
Hughes, Paris, Collection Hetzel, E. 
Jung-Treuttel, 1862., pp. 303-306. 

Once again Kupka draws his inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe whose poem "The 
Sleeper" was translated into French as "La Dormeuse" at least as early as 1862. 1 
The second stanza describes a pale woman with long hair sleeping in a canopied 
bed around which wild breezes move the curtains and create fantastic and some- 
times terrifying shadows. In earlier more literal versions of the same theme, Kupka 
shows monstrous forms, similar to those found in Money, watching over the bed. 
The vertical format, rich linear quality and taut arabesque motifs recall Alphonse 
Mucha's exemplary Art Nouveau style. The contrasts created by shading and 
crosshatching are comparabe to master etchers Kupka admired such as Rops and 

Kupka did a large number of variations on this theme, some of which are highly 
contrasted and fully rendered in a more popular illustrational style. Some show a 
dying rather than a sleeping woman. Kupka's subject may be drawn in part from 
Maria Bruhn's death in Vienna in 1898, which he witnessed. Whatever the inspira- 
tion, this final etching appears to be the most subtle distillation of the theme. 
Vachtova (p. 70) has suggested that this etching was conceived as an illustration 
for Mallarme's "Herodiade." However, the title, subject and inscriptions on pre- 
liminary versions reveal that Kupka was illustrating Poe's poem. 


na-b Two special issues of L'Assiette au 

a. L' Argent (Money). 1902 

12% x 9%" (32.1 x 24.8 cm.) 
Private Collection, New York 

b. Religions (Religions). 1904 

i2 J /2 x 9%" (31.8 x 24.8 cm.) 
Private Collection, New York 

Between 1901 and 1904, Kupka did many satirical illustrations for the anarchist 
magazine L'Assiette au beurre. He was also commissioned for three special issues 
exclusively illustrated by him on the themes of Money (January n, 1902); Religion 
(May 7, 1904) and Peace (August 20, 19Q4). 

L'Assiette au Beurre 

au Beurre 





i z Nude in Black Stockings (Nu aux 
has noirs). c. 1904 

Oil on paperboard, 28% x 15" 
(72. x 38 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Dr. Altmayer, Paris 


the artist 

Andree Martinel-Kupka 

to present owner 

Rops, Les Exercices de devotion de 
Monsieur Henri Roche, color etching, 
Courtesy Lucien Goldschmidt, Inc., 
New York. 

1 Felicien Rops, catalogue raisonne by 
Maurice Exsteens, 1918, vol. II, no. 362. 

2 One thinks for example of Toulouse- 
Lautrec's La Modiste (The Hatmaker) 
of 1900, Musee d'Albi, France 

Kupka did at least two earlier paintings on this theme (NG, Prague), as well as one 
known pastel (Spencer A. Samuels and Company, Ltd., 1968, cat. no. 4). The 
other oil versions dating from 1902-03 are more conventional in color and form 
and place more importance on the setting (furnishings of a dressing-room, mirrors, 
draperies, etc.). The most obvious and probable source of this theme is an etching 
by Felicien Rops called Les Exercices de devotion de Monsieur Henri Roche (The 
Devotional Exercises of Monsieur Henri Roche) 1 showing a young girl in black 
stockings standing before her dressing table (fig.). Yet Kupka's style as it has 
developed here reveals a debt to Toulouse-Lautrec. Since Kupka made posters 
for night clubs in Montmartre and lived almost directly over Aristide Bruant's 
cabaret, he was certainly acquainted with the French artist's work. The influence 
of Toulouse-Lautrec is seen in the fluidity of color, the lush yet muted tonal combi- 
nations and the intimate glow of the composition, as well as in the psychologically 
astute depiction of the figure's solitude. 2 Most importantly, this c. 1904 painting 
shows an early attempt to deal with the autonomous expressive powers of color. 


fi3 Dancers. 1904-05 

Sanguine and charcoal on paper, 
i7 5 /8 x z-lVs" (44.7 x 53.8 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(K 12751) 


the artist 

to present owner, 1906 


14 Portrait of Madame Kupka I (Por- 
trait de Madame Kupka I). 1905 

Oil on mattress ticking, 24% x 24%" 
(63 x 63 cm.) 

Signed and dated ur "Kupka//is>05;'' 
inscribed 11 "JANVIER//1905" 

Fedit, no. 13, repr. 
Vachtova, no. 32, repr. p. 294 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 3 560- P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, 1957 


*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume (hors 
catalogue, information from in- 
stallation photograph) 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 8 
-'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 1 

Painted from a photograph of Madame Kupka which shows her in an almost 
identical position (see Fedit, cat. no. 13, p. 33), this portrait reveals Kupka's con- 
ventional painterly style and is one of the earliest known examples of Kupka work- 
ing from a photograph. The date is probably correct as it does not seem to have 
been added later as is so often the case. In 1919 Kupka did a replica of this portrait 
at his patron Waldes' request (now in NG, Prague). 




1 5 The Song of Songs (Le Cantique 
des Cantiques). 1905 

15V2 x 11W (39.4 x Z9.3 cm.) 
Private Collection, New York 

Kupka made three illustrated editions of The Song of Songs, published in 1905, 
19x8 and 1931. The illustrations for all three, executed before 1909, reveal the full 
range of Kupka's decorative style at that time, a style which drew on Viennese 
Secession motifs, decorative arts and folk art, and show thorough knowledge of 
the art of book illustration. 


1 6 Standing Woman, Study for Au- 
tumn Sun (Femme debout, etude 
pour Soleil d'automne). 1905 

Watercolor and pencil on paper, 
21 V2 x 15%" (54.5 x 39 cm.) 

Stamped lr "Kupka" 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 



17 Autumn Sun (Soleil d'automne). 

Oil on canvas, 40V2 x 46V&" 
(103 x 117 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 54, incorrect repr. p. 60 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 



the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, 1946 


Paris, 1906, Salon d'Automne, 
no. 896 

Vienna, 1908, no. 12 
"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 14 
(dated 1906) 

""Pi'sek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961 (hors 

'Prague, 1968, no. 24, repr. 

The subject of three women, usually allegorical, was a popular one at the turn of 
the century (Munch, Klimt and others treated this theme). It is therefore not 
surprising to find it in Kupka's work, even though the meaning remains ambiguous. 

Many studies and at least two oil paintings 1 were executed in preparation for 
the canvas seen here in its final form. Work on the theme was probably started in 
St. Prix during the summer of 1905. The apple tree in the garden was used in 
illustrations for The Song of Songs and it occurs again here. 

The thick impasto, tonal density and heavily massed forms reveal an exposure 
to Germanic art, if not a northern temperament. Apparently Kupka traveled to 
Munich often after the turn of the century, although this is not clearly documented. 

More interesting however is the gradual emergence of colored shadows, model- 
ing the figures in lavenders, greens, turquoises; planes of color which are seen 
again tentatively in the pastel for the Girl with a Ball of 1907-08 (cat. no. 30), and 
which adumbrate Planes by Colors: Large Nude of 1909-10 (cat. no. 42). The 
vertical planes of horizontal or diagonal brushstrokes in the background evoke a 
rhythmic play of light and shadow. They are seen for the first time here, 2 and they 
will appear in other works of 1906 (see cat. no. 19, for example). 

An etching on this theme was exhibited at the 191 o Salon d'Automne. For further 
references and interpretations, see Fedit, cat. no. 16, p. 35. 

1 MNAM, Paris, first version; NG, 
Prague, second version 

2 After painting the final version, Kupka 
added similar vertical planes to the first 
of the two preparatory oil sketches. 

I C I 

1 8 Study after Autumn Sun (Etude 
d'apres Soleil d'automne). 1906 

Pencil on paper, 7% x 6%" 
(zox 17.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

1 19 Self -Fortran. 1906 

Oil on canvas, 25% x 25 5 /s" 
(65 x 65 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka 1905" 

Vachtova, no. 30, repr. pp. 104-105 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(O 1807) 


the artist 

Jindrich Waldes 

to present owner, 1940 


:: 'Prague, 1906, no. 133 
Prague, 1939, no. 301 
Prague, 1950 
Gottwaldov, 1959 
Liberec— Prague, 1959 
Dobruska, 1962 
Hluboke— Brno, 1966, no. 224 
s 'Prague, 1968, no. 18, repr. 
"Belgrade, 1969, no. 3, repr. 

Although this Self Portrait is dated 1905, there is reason to believe it was painted 
in 1906. The most compelling evidence is provided by a photograph which un- 
doubtedly served as a model for the painting and shows the artist in his Puteaux 
studio, where he moved in the early spring of 1906 (fig. larger repr. page 46). The 
photograph shows documents of Kupka's artistic activity which are of interest; 
some of the details also point to a r9o6 dating. 

Kupka in his studio, Puteaux, c. 1906. 

On the far left are drawings for the book Les Erinnyes, which Kupka began 
working on in 1906. Two sketches are visible on Kupka's easel: directly under his 
hand is a drawing for L'Homme et la terre, on which he worked between 1904 and 
1908. Under it one can see a study for Autumn Sun (see cat. no. 17). Tacked to the 
easel is a torn paper showing Egyptian figures in profile and Mycenaen motifs. 
Kupka began looking closely at the art of these cultures c. 1906, in preparation for 
Les Erinnyes. 

On the wall behind Kupka's head is the painting The Judgment of Paris which 
he exhibited at the 1907 Salon d'Automne under the title Project for a Mural 
Painting. Below it hangs an antique scene of a man with two Percherons and 
women at a well, a painting signed and dated 1904, which shows the influence of 
Puvis de Chavannes. Finally, on the far right, one can see a large early version of 
Kupka's Large Nude (see cat. no. 42), a version which is documented nowhere 
else and which appears to have been lost. 

In addition to the evidence offered by this photograph, the painting itself is 
more stylistically advanced than Kupka's 1905 work. Compared to the Portrait 
of Madame Kupka of 1905 (cat. no. 14), for example, here the clothing and back- 
ground show a flatter more controlled brushwork. The vertical planes of light 
and shadow in the right-hand area were first seen in the late versions of Autumn 
Sun, also of 1906. Finally, examination reveals that the date was added sometime 
after the signature, a fact which makes the accuracy of the date questionable. 


20 Cabbage (Le Chou). 1906 

Oil on canvas, 28 Ys x 3i 1 /2 M 
(72 x 80 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 15, repr. 
Vachtova, no. 46, repr. p. 99 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 41 63 -P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 10 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 2, repr.; Munich, 

1967, no. 2, repr.; Vienna 1967, no. 

2; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 3, repr.; 

Prague, 1968, no. 26, repr. 

1 Manuscript 1, p. 18 

The subject, probably drawn from Kupka's vegetable garden in Puteaux, illustrates 
his interest in the organic structural rhythms and textures found in nature. In 
Kupka's 191 0-1 1 manuscript, he evokes the brilliant white borders formed by drops 
of rain on a spider web, and "the white velvet on the leaves of a cabbage" as 
natural phenomena full of artistic potential. 1 The loose spiraling organic structure 
around a central core will be found in much of Kupka's later abstract work. The 
painting's rich yet datk tonalities evoke a Northern painting tradition, as per- 
petuated in Ensor's still lifes, for example. 


21 Standing Woman, Rear View 

(Femtne debout, vue de dos). 1906 

Etching, 9% x 6V4" (24 x 15.5 cm.) 
Signed 11 "Kupka" in unknown hand 
Gallien Collection, Paris 


the artist 

to present owner 

1 According to Andree Martinel-Kupka, 
in conversation with the author, 
January 23, 1975. 

This etching was done from a gouache study now in the Musee National d'Art 
Moderne, Paris (Fedit, cat. no. 17, p. 35). Although Fedit identifies the gouache 
as a preliminary study for Autumn Sun, the similarity of pose to that in Standing 
Bather (cat. no. 22), the advanced coloristic treatment and the flat horizontal brush- 
strokes arranged in vertical planes on either side of the figure suggest that the 
gouache was painted after Autumn Sun, probably during the summer of 1906 at 

The etching is almost identical to the gouache; however the animation produced 
by color in the original gouache has been replaced by tight abstract arabesques 
which show Kupka's debt to Rembrandt's etching style. 

The model is thought to be Kupka's wife Eugenie. 1 


2.z Standing Bather (Baigneuse 
debout). 1906 

Pastel on gray paper, 18% x 11%" 

(48 x 29 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 

Paris (AM 2762-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 

23 Bather (La Baigneuse). 1906 

Pastel on gray paper, 11V2 x 15%" 
(29.1 x 40 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Gift of the Saiden- 
berg Gallery, 1965 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris 

Saidenberg Gallery, New York 

to present owner, gift 

These two pastels, like the painting for which they are studies, were conceived if 
not finished during a summer vacation at Theoule in 1906. Both show the be- 
ginnings of Kupka's "archaic" style, influenced by his illustrations for Les Erinnyes 
begun that year (see fig. 5, p. 308), and subsequently developed into the "Gigo- 
lettes" series. The first pastel is an adaptation of cat. no. 21. The second, showing 
a bather in the water, was elaborated with the help of a photograph of Kupka's 
stepdaughter (then age five) playing in a bathtub in the garden (see upper left 
corner). Other pastel and watercolor sketches depict the two bathers facing each 
other on the same sheet. Since the paper for these two is the same quality and 
format, one can assume that they were done almost as pendants at the same time. 


Water; The Bather (L'Eau; La 
Baigneuse). 1906-07 

Oil on canvas, 24-% x 3IV8" 
(63 x 80 cm.) 

Signed II "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 19, repr. 
Vachtova, no. 38, repr. p. 143 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 4161-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


Sao Paulo, 1957, no. 44 

"Cologne, 1967, no. 5, repr.; Munich, 

1967, no. 5, repr.; Vienna, 1967, no. 

3, repr. p. 25; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 

6, repr.; Prague, 1968, no. 25, repr. 

1 The Other Shore, 1896, NG, Prague; 
The Pond, 1901, Collection Karl 
Flinker, Paris 

2 Manuscript II, p. 47 

Based on Madame Kupka bathing in Theoule, Kupka's fascination with the laws 
of nature is vividly illustrated here. Although he had done several paintings of 
reflection on water, 1 he had never shown forms immersed and disarticulated by 
water as seen here. Surely the idea of the human microcosm's absorption into the 
macrocosm of nature appealed to him almost as much as the purely formal inno- 
vations such a subject permitted. Moreover the pictorial idea is exemplary of the 
philosophical concept: the natural element of water dissolves what was once a 
discrete form into an uninterrupted pattern. As Kupka was to say in his manuscript 
of 1912-13, discussing the phenomenon of reflection: "What adorable tricks on the 
absolute limits of things." 2 




f 25 Study for In the Bois de Boulogne. 

India ink on tracing paper, 8 5 /s x 5V2" 

(22 x 14. 1 cm.) 


Vachtova, p. 54 (dated 1904) 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 

(K 5006) 


the artist 

Jindrich Waldes 

to present owner, 1940 

f 26 In the Bois de Boulogne. 1906-07 

Oil on canvas, 25% x 25 Va" 

(65 x 65 cm.) 

Signed and dated 11 "Kupka//i907" 

Vachtova, no. 49, repr. p. 55 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 



the artist 

Jindrich Waldes, 1921 

to present owner, 1940 


'Tisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, no. 

3, repr. 
^Prague, 1968, no. 27, repr. 
"Belgrade, 1969, no. 5, repr. 

1 L'Homme et la terre, vol. I, book IV, 
ch. II: "Repartition des hommes," 
published October 25, 1905. 

Around 1906-07, Kupka's work took a turn which suggests that he was looking at 
French painting and moving away from the heavy Germanic and more baroque 
models of his past. At the same time, he began working on outdoor themes and 
drawing his inspiration from more spontaneous subjects or events in his everyday 
existence. Possibly this corresponded to his move to a house with a garden in Pu- 
teaux which was close to the Bois de Boulogne. In the Bois de Boulogne is a good 
example of this development. 

Kupka did many drawings and a few oil sketches on this theme. A cul-de-lampe 
for Elisee Reclus' L'Homme et la terre 1 presents its point of departure. It depicts the 
proletariat picnicking and dancing in the Bois de Boulogne on a Sunday. The class 
of society shown here is intentionally different from that usually portrayed by the 
Impressionists: the women are hatless and in simple dress, the men are in shirt- 
sleeves and sport the red anarchist sash. The vertical divisions of the composition 
are not as innovative as they are often assumed to be. They are found in many Im- 
pressionist and Neo-Impressionist paintings: in Manet, Degas, Vuillard, Denis, Seu- 
rat, to cite a few obvious examples. 



27 Portrait of a Lady. 1906-07 

Oil on canvas, 28% x 26" 
(73 x 66 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 
Vachtova, no. 45, repr. p. 297 
Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

Jaroslav Jindra, Prague 

to present owner, 1961 


"'Prague, 1968, no. 30, repr. 

Probably of the same period as In the Bois de Boulogne, this portrait of a woman 
seated in Kupka's Puteaux garden seems to contain several references to French 
painting. The diagonal line in the background and the open brushwork on a white 
ground evoke Cezanne, whereas the close patterning effects suggest a knowledge of 
Bonnard or Vuillard. Finally the brilliant colors and shading recall Matisse's por- 
traits of Madame Matisse of 1905. A painting on paperboard of a couple on the 
grass dated 1906 (In the Garden, NG, Prague) is even closer to Matisse's 1905 style, 
showing green planes modeled with lavender shadows on the woman's face. 

The refined silhouette of the model— her small head, delicate profile, discreetly 
open neckline and layered sleeves— suggests that she may have been the model for 
the initial pastels in the Woman Picking Flowers series. Her chair is the same as that 
in the earliest pastel shown here (cat. no. 46). Since neither this painting nor the 
pastels can be dated with complete accuracy, they may be somewhat closer in time 
than is indicated here. 

z8 Study for The Yellow Scale (Etude 
pour La Gammejaune). 1907 

Charcoal on paper, 16 7s x 14V6" 
(42.8 x 35.5 cm.) 

Stamped lr"Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

Karl Flinker 

Gimpel Fils Ltd., London, 1965 

Spencer A. Samuels and Co., Ltd., 


Mr. and Mrs. Warren Brandt 

to present owner 



29 The Yellow Scale (La Gamme 
jaune). 1907-08 

Oil on canvas, 31V6 x 31%" 

(79 x 79 cm.) 

Signed and dated Ir "Kupka//i907" 

Fedit, no. 18, repr. 
Vachtova, no. 61, repr. p. 63 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 4165 -P) 


the artist 

Collection Reitz, Vienna 

the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


Paris, 1910, Salon d'Aatomne, 

no. 676 

s 'Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 14 (dated 

Florence, 1964, no. 348, repr. 
^Cologne, 1967, no. 4, repr.; Munich, 

1967, no. 4, repr.; Vienna, 1967, no. 

4; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 7, repr.; 

Prague, 1968, no. 3Z, repr. 

1 Ruskin, in The Stones of Venice, 
quoted in Wylie Sypher, Rococo to 
Cubism in Art and Literature, 
New York, i960, p. 145. 

2 First published in The World, May 22, 
1878; reprinted in The Gentle Art of 
Making Enemies, first published, 1890. 

3 Manuscript I, p. 17. 

4 Manuscript II, p. 55; paraphrased here. 

5 Vachtova, p. 69. 

6 Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. Repro- 
duced in Van Deren Coke, The Painter 
and the Photograph, Albuquerque, 
1972, p. 46. 

As the discussion on p. 68 proposes, The Yellow Scale may be understood as both 
a Symbolist portrait and an inquiry into the laws of color as disseminated through 
Chevreul. In support of the Symbolist hypothesis, one may refer to many writers 
and painters of the late nineteenth century. At random, consider Ruskin writing on 
van Gogh "He . . . learned the orchestration of pure tone by all the derivatives of 
this tone." Subject matter, said Ruskin in this reference, "was replaced by great 
harmonies of solid colors suggesting the total harmony of the picture. . . ." I Or 
consider Whistler, whose work Kupka knew, and who wrote in 1878: "It is for 
the artist to do something beyond this [imitation]: in portrait painting to put on 
canvas something more than the face the model wears for that one day; to paint the 
man, in short, as well as his features; in arrangement of colors to treat a flower as 
his key, not as his model." 2 

Kupka was to say in 1910-11: "It is the ensemble of forms in a human face which 
impresses us at first. It is only afterwards that we understand the importance of 
each feature." 3 In reference to unified color, he wrote in 1912-13: "the atmosphere 
of a work is more or less its spiritual factor. Atmosphere in a painting is achieved 
through bathing the canvas in a single scale of colors [une seule gamme de teintes]. 
Naturally this can be a scale of bright yellows, of brilliant reds, as long as there is 
a chromatic unity. This is arrived at through the elimination of complementaries, 
contrasts and even the diminution of light intensity. Thus one achieves an 'etat 
d'dme,' exteriorized in luminous form." 4 

Whether this is a symbolic portrait or an investigation of the function of color, 
the more precise individual features of the preparatory sketch suggest that Kupka 
may have started from a particular model. Vachtova states that it was merely "a 
friend." 5 Fedit, at Kupka's suggestion, refers to a painting by Gauguin, called Poet 
in Yellow (Le Poete en jaune). 

Many of the individual features evoke photographs of Baudelaire, in particular 
Nadar's i860 portrait: 6 the hollowed eyes, the irregular nose, the razor-sharp 
mouth, the receding hairline and graying temples. This and other photographs of 
the poet served as models for many artists. For example, Duchamp-Villon's 191 1 
portrait sculpture of Baudelaire was apparently done from a photograph. Although 
one cannot prove that Baudelaire was Kupka's model, one may suggest that a pho- 
tograph of Baudelaire may have contributed its general morphology to what is 
probably an imaginary portrait of composite inspiration. 



3 o Girl with a Ball (Petite fille an 
ballon). 1907-08 

Pastel on paper, 24 V2 x 18M" 
(62.2. x 47.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Frantisek Kupka, 1956 (567.56) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift 



3 1 

Girl with a Ball (Petite fille an 
ballon). 1908 

Oil on canvas, 44% x 2.7 Vi" 

(114 x 70 cm.) 

Signed and dated II "Kupka//i9o8' 

Fedit, no. 60, repr. 
Vachtova, no. 69, repr. p. 77 
Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 3464-P) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift, 1956 


"'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. z 

A fairly conventional and unpretentious portrayal of Kupka's stepdaughter Andrce 
in the garden holding a ball, paradoxically, this painting contains the seeds for 
much of the artist's development toward abstraction during the period 1909-12.. 
This evolution is discussed in detail on pp. 60-67, 7°-74- The painting appears un- 
finished and may be so, due to Kupka's frustration at being unable to resolve prob- 
lems of movement, color and perspective as they were beginning to crystallize in 
his mind. 


32a-c Three studies after Girl with a Ball 
(mounted in a single mat). 

a. Pencil on paper, 8Vs x <$ x k" 
(20.6 x 13.3 cm.) 
Stamped 11 "Kupka" 

b. Pencil on paper, 10% x 7%" 
(27.3 x 18.7 cm.) 

Inscribed and signed r margin "ici il 
n'y a que//la dissection//des sur- 
faces//la conception//de la//con- 
penetration [sic] / /atmospherique/ / 
est a trouver//tant qu'il y//aura la 
difference//des couleurs//du fond 
et//de la chair//je retomberai //dans 
le [sic] photo//carte postale;" 11 

c. Colored crayons on paper, 
8% x 5V2" (21.2 x 14 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i907" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Frantisek Kupka, 1956 (568.56.4-5-2) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift 

For the complete sequence of these 
works, see cat. nos. 45, 61-62 



% III 





33 The First Step (Le Premier pas). 

Oil on canvas, 32% x 51" 

(83.2 x 129.6 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka// 1909" 

Vachtova, no. 97, repr. p. 79 

Collection The Museum of Modern 

Art, New York, Hillman Periodicals 

Fund, 1956 (562.56) 


the artist 

to present owner, 1956 


New York, 1957; March- April 1958; 
October 1958-October 1959, MOMA 
''New York, 1961, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 3 
Washington, D.C., 1963 
New York, 1964-65; 1969; 1972; 
December 1972-March 1973, 

The First Step is one of the most difficult paintings to situate in Kupka's oeuvre. 
It is hard to understand how and why the artist would have executed this painting 
in 1909, the date given it by Kupka. There is no other work of the period which 
even slightly resembles it. Yet there is no adequate justification for dating it later. 
Superficially, The First Step can be related to the Disks of Newton series of 1911-12. 
But a careful comparison of these paintings reveals few if any real similarities. 

The First Step is painted on the reverse of a commercially primed canvas. The 
primed side had already been used for a Gigolette painting which, although un- 
finished, was nonetheless signed and dated 1909-10 (fig.). However, the tentative 
treatment and weak stylization argue for a dating of 1908 (see cat. no. 36). Sub- 
sequently, presumably between 1908 and 1909, Kupka unstretched the canvas and 
restretched it to use the other side. 

The thin matte ground of The First Step, which is entirely uncharacteristic for 
Kupka, is explained by the fact that it is painted on the reverse of a primed canvas. 
This unprimed side seems to have been worked on in at least two if not three 
phases: the first c. 1909; the later reworkings c. 191 1 and 1913. 

A careful examination reveals that the first version consisted of two large central 
planets, surrounded by a ring of evenly spaced small disks on a stained black field, 
essentially the same composition as exists today. In this initial version, the largest 

Kupka, Reverse of The First Step, Col- 
lection The Museum of Modern Art, 
New York, Hillman Periodicals Fund. 

white disk was threaded with black veins on a white ground, depicting a lunar 
landscape. The second disk, behind it and to the left, may have been somewhat 
whiter than it is now. The small disks which revolve around these two focalized 
overlapping circles were originally white with slightly gray haloes. 

Around 191 1, when Kupka was doing studies for the Fugue, he reworked the 
painting. He repainted the dominant form a solid white, so that all that remains 
of the earlier veined surface is a barely visible network of gray lines. At intersect- 
ing points of this web, he studded the surface with blobs of white. The second large 
disk was repainted gray, its left edge high-lighted with white, creating a reverbera- 
tion against the black ground. He also added a shadow to further separate the two. 
At the same time he encircled the smaller disks with loosely intertwined wreaths of 
dark green which virtually destroy the original even spacing and add a sense of 
spiraling rotation and dynamic continuity between them. Probably concurrently, 
he drew a sketchy single blood-red ring in the bare black field on the left. Finally, 
perhaps in a third version c. 191 3, he articulated the satellites with blue and red 
splinters of color, encompassed them with gray-blue haloes and punctuated the 
green and red wreaths of color with brighter shades of the same hues. This partial 
accentuation of the green orbits makes them advance and recede in space. The 
cherry-red stippling on the deeper red ring is more evenly distributed than the green 
and anchors that circle in a single more recessive plane in space. 

The knotted lines of color of the red and green wreaths are seen in some late 
studies for the Amorpha Fugue (MOMA Study Collection). Both the use of green 
and the linking of motifs in a continuous movement occur in "Copenetrations" of 
1910-11, where an arabesque anticipating the Fugue is found (see cat. no. 68). The 
separate yet interpenetrating colored orbits on a black ground set in a relation to 
two over-lapping white disks suggest that this painting, at least in 191 1, was con- 
ceived as a very tentative and unique study for the Fugue, particularly since in 1911, 
Kupka was beginning to work on obviously cosmic themes which added a dimen- 
sion to his Fugue development. However the precise arrangement of splintered red 
and blue shards does not appear in Kupka's work until 1913. One can therefore 
safely suggest that they were added after the Fugue at the time of The Cathedral 
(cat. no. 99). 

This discussion of formal characteristics does not tell us why Kupka chose to do 
such a subject as early as 1909. His long interest in astronomy is of course relevant, 
especially since he kept abreast of the most recent astronomical discoveries through 
scientific journals and the more general periodicals which were full of articles 
about them. Eclipses of the sun were seen in Europe in 1900 and 1905. They were 
photographed and widely reproduced as were many other astronomical discoveries 
concerning the sun, the moon and individual planets. Astronomical photographs 
were shown at the Observatory, the Palais de la Decouverte, and the museum of 
the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, places Kupka visited frequently. More spe- 
cifically, a large-scale model of the moon was exhibited at Uccle in Belgium in 1909, 
a year Kupka visited Onesime Reclus in that same town. One can only conjecture 
that this monumental relief model of the moon (now at the Palais de la Decouverte, 
Paris) catalyzed Kupka's desire to formulate the image in The First Step. 

Furthermore, in 1908-09, he was working on the orbital relationships of the girl 
with the ball theme. Sketches (cat. nos. 32a-c) show the girl as a focal image, or a 
double shifting center with the ball beginning to sweep in a fuller circle around 
her. On one of these drawings, Kupka wrote, expressing his frustration: "Here I 
am only dissecting surfaces. The atmospheric co-penetration is still to be found. 
As long as there is a distinction between ground and flesh color, I will fall back 
into the postcard photograph." (cat. no. 32b) It seems plausible to conjecture that 
in order to escape the constraints of figurative representation, and inspired by a 
vivid exposure to another rotational system at Uccle, Kupka moved to a new con- 
text of experience— from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic— to capture the 
sense of rotation which was his ultimate goal. 


34 Prometheus Blue and Red. 

Watercolor on paper, 12% x 11V2" 
(32.1 x 29.3 cm.) 

Signed II "Kupka" 
Vachtova, no. 67, repr. p. 299 
Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 

35 Portrait of Eugenie Kupka, from 
the Back (Portrait d' Eugenie 
Kupka, de dos). c. 1908-09 

Oil on paperboard, 15% x zoVs" 
(39 x51cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//o5" 
Private Collection 


the artist 

Andree Martinel-Kupka 
Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris 
to present owner, April 1966 


*Paris, 1966, Karl Flinker, no. 23, 

vv^^j ^^B 


^r \ ~><- 

" w& 

■•-'■ : 







BET ^ 


aSHBS** ' ' u^^A 1 


tuK s ' 



The subject of a woman from the back was one which intrigued Kupka over a 
period of many years (see cat. nos. 1, 12, 21 and 44 for example). This portrait of 
Eugenie, although dated 1905, appears on stylistic grounds to have been painted 
later. The bold swatches of primary and secondary colors and the almost planar 
modeling forecast Family Portrait of 1910. This style is not found in any of Kupka's 
work before c. 1908-09. 

36 "Gigolettes" and Marlou 

(Gigolettes et Marlou). 1908-09 

Oil on paperboard 2.9V2 x 28%" 
(75 x72 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka;" signed and dated 
middle 1 "Kupka/7 06" 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 

Andree Martinel-Kupka 

to present owner 


*Paris, 1966, Karl Flinker, no. 29 

(dated 1906), repr. 
''Cologne, 1967, no. 85, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 85, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 1 ; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 

5, repr.; Prague, 1968, no. 33, repr. 

1 Although Fedit moves the beginning of 
the period back to 1906, all of the 
works known to the present author 
can be situated between 1908-10 and, 
except for this particular work, are 
dated accordingly. Since this work is 
signed twice, one can question the 
accuracy of the second signature and 

2 MNAM, Paris; see Fedit, cat. no. 29, 
p. 45. 

Like cat. no. 35, this oil sketch seems to have been incorrectly dated by Kupka. All 
of the Gigolette series were done in the period 1908-10. 1 Although the dates may be 
confused even within that period, one can distinguish between the earlier more ten- 
tative interpretations of the theme and others such as this one which show supreme 
control of color, brushstroke, stylized forms and composition. What must be con- 
sidered a first version of the same composition was painted on the reverse of The 
First Step of 1909-13 (see fig., p. 119). Sketchy, unfinished, more literal in its de- 
piction, Kupka nonetheless dated it 1909-10 which once again seems impossible in 
view of the sure stylistic development of the theme through 1909 (see cat. no. 38 
and other unexhibited works from the series in the MNAM, Paris). The male figure 
"Marlou" is found again in a painting he Mec (The Pimp), dated 1910 (once more 
probably incorrectly dated). 2 

"Gigolettes" and Marlon shows a consummate stylistic treatment of the Gigo- 
lette theme equal to that found in Galliens Girl of 1909. 

37 Rolled-up Hair (Cheveux routes). 

Pastel on heavy beige paper or paper- 
board, 18V2 x 12. V (47 x 31cm.) 
Signed dated lr "Kupka//i909" 
Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

Obviously inspired by the art of Crete and Mycenae which Kupka had studied in 
preparing the illustrations for Les Erinnyes (see fig. 5, p. 308), in this highly stylized 
drawing he also attempted to capture the powdery texture and muted colors of 
fresco painting. 


38 Gal lien's Girl; G allien s Taste; 
The Cabaret Singer (La Mome a 
Gallien; Au gout de Gallien; ha 
Chanteuse de Cabaret). 1909 

Oil on canvas, 42V2 x 39 Vs" 
(108 x 100 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 
Vachtova, no. 73, color pi. II 
Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 24 
Amsterdam, 1957, no. 58, repr. 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 3, pi. II 
Hluboke— Brno, 1966, no. 226, repr. 
London, 1967, no. 74, repr. 
Brussels— Rotterdam, 1967, no. 74, 

"Prague, 1968, no. 39, repr. 
"Belgrade, 1969, no. 7, repr. 
Munich, 1970, no. 39; Paris, 1970, 
no. 26, repr. 
Stockholm— Goteborg, 1973, no. 87 

Known today as Gallien s Girl, the original title of this painting was probably The 
Cabaret Singer. Kupka changed the title after meeting Gallien c. 1920. In 1946, he 
exhibited it as Gallien s Taste (Gallienovo gusto) and thereafter under this title or 
either of the other two interchangeably. As in the other works in the Gigolette 
series, this painting shows the influence of archaic Mediterranean art as well as that 
of Kees van Dongen, an artist widely exhibited in Paris at that time and whom 
Kupka admired for a short period. Although the painting appears somewhat un- 
finished, the large format, extreme stylization, brilliant yet economical palette and 
the controlled and contrasted composition imply that it was one of the last paint- 
ings of this series. 



39 Piano Keys— Lake (Les Touches 
du piano). 1909 

Oil on canvas, 31V6 x z8%" 
(79 x 72 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 74, color pi. VII 
Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


'■Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 20 
''Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 4 
Edinburgh— Leeds, 1959, no. 52, 
pi. XVIII 
*Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, no. 

5, repr. 
Hluboke— Brno, 1966, no. 227, color 
London, 1967, no. 75 
Brussels— Rotterdam, 1967, no. 75 
^Prague, 1968, no. 37, repr. black and 

white and color 
Toronto, 1969, no. 292, repr. 
Geneva, 1970, no. 67; Zurich, 1970, 
no. 67 

Stockholm— Goteborg, 1973, no. 86, 

The substructural image of a lake, boat and a distant shore was obviously painted 
earlier than the short vertical bands of color of the surface plane. In the original 
image, the bright enameled colors, the rich impastoed brushstrokes and the general 
organization along a central vertical axis blossoming at the top in a bouquet of 
floral motifs is comparable to the composition of Gallien's Girl. The piano theme, 
applied over this descriptive image like an acoustical grid, may also relate to jazz 
or the cabaret. 

Obviously Kupka was trying to destroy perspective and unify the composition 
through the use of a surface grid of neutral color slabs unrelated in all aspects to the 
original subject matter. Since to Kupka's mind, music was an arrangement of non- 
descriptive units, he evidently felt that this reference to notes and chords, which 
create harmony when superimposed, would telescope his image into a single plane. 
Thus he would arrive at an abstract visual pattern, parallel to musical composition. 
The textures, structures and visual impact of the two pictorial ideas are so different 
that a true unity is not achieved. Nonetheless a basic component of Kupka's future 
development is present in this dissonant composition. 



40 Study for Planes by Colors, Large 
Nude (Etude pour Plans par 
couleurs, Grand Nu). 1906-07 

Pastel on paper, 19% x 2.3 l A" 
(50 x 59 cm.) 

Stamped Ir "Kupka" 

Collection Joseph H. Hazen 


the artist 

Andree Martinel-Kupka 
Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris 
to present owner 


4i Study for Planes by Colors, Large 
Nude (Etude pour Plans par 
couleurs, Grand Nu). 1909 

Pastel on paper, 18 7s x z3 5 /s" 
(48 x 60 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 35, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 2759-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


42. Planes by Colors, Large Nude 
(Plans par couleurs, Grand Nu). 

Oil on canvas, 59% x 71V6" 
(150.1 x 180.8 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i909" 

Vachtova, no. 87, repr. p. 73 

Collection The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York, 
Gift of Mrs. Andrew P. Fuller, 1968 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

Richard L. Feigen, Inc., New York, 


Mrs. Andrew P. Fuller, April 1961 

to present owner, gift 


Paris, 1 91 1, Salon d'Automne, 

no. 811 

"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 16 

(dated 1910), repr. p. 21 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 9 (dated 

Paris, 1954, Salon des hidependants, 
no. 1630 

Sao Paulo, 1957, no. 45 
*Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 5 
New York, 1969, April-May; 
September-October, SRGM 
New York, 1970, SRGM, p. 254, 
repr. color 

New York, 1971, SRGM, p. 254, 
repr. color 

New York, 1972-73, SRGM 
New York, 1973, SRGM 

1 See the forthcoming catalogue of The 
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 
collection, Paintings 1880-1945, by 
Angelica Zander Rudenstine, where 
all the known studies will be 

z Siblik, 1929; Turpin, 1931, forexample. 

3 Manuscript I, p. 49. 

4 Manuscript II, p. 44. 

Kupka worked on the theme of the Large Nude over a period of many years: at 
least from 1904 to 1909-10. Over twenty studies in pencil, charcoal and pastel are 
known today. 1 In comparison to the final interpretation seen here, the earliest ver- 
sions are extremely academic (see cat. no. 40 and fig., p. 132). Through the years, 
the subject evolved from a reclining nude to a formal arrangement of color planes. 

Writers of the twenties and thirties 2 spoke of this painting in terms of "plans- 
souchettes" (blunt or stub-like planes) and a "sorte de pointillisme grossi" (a mag- 
nified pointillism). Since these phrases are found consistently in Kupka's autobio- 
graphical notes, this was a terminology which he either created or adopted to 
describe his activity. 

In his manuscript of 1910-n, Kupka wrote: "We who have the conquests of the 
Impressionists behind us, we enlarge their pointillism into planes by colors; we 
know very well that light is not in white and black but in color, in the more or less 
scientific theory of complementarity. "-' This text was written shortly after the final 
version of the painting had been completed. It is the first time that the term "planes 
by colors" appears in Kupka's writings. 

In the artist's 1912-13 manuscript, he took up the subject of the "plane" in 
greater detail. One passage in particular provides an insight into what Kupka was 
striving to achieve in the Large Nude: "The principle of construction, the scaffold- 
ing of a work, is in the large planes of color." 4 



Obviously Kupka was trying to break away from the traditional practices of ren- 
dering illusionistic volume through shading and perspective. To Kupka, modeling 
and three-dimensional form belong to the sculptor's art. The painter, whose sup- 
port is two-dimensional, determines his forms by color alone. 

Planes by Colors: Large Nude, exhibited for the first time in 1911, attracted a 
wide critical response which was, needless to say, not always positive. The satirical 
magazine Fantasio devoted a long paragraph to the painting, in which a doctor was 
described standing before the canvas, crying out, "We must alert the Service of 
Hygiene. This unhappy woman is suffering from pityriasis versicolore. . . . These 
skin infections may be contagious." 5 Andre Salmon, in Paris-Journal, described the 
painting as a decomposition inspired by Matisse. 6 Maurice Dekobra, in La Revue 
des beaux-arts, spoke of "the woman in a process of decomposition . . . whose body 
is adorned with fluorescent greens, yellows, and reds. ... It is the magic lantern of 
old men about to succumb to second childhood." 7 Only Gustave Kahn, in Mercure 
de France, expressed a more positive response: "On the borders of Impressionism, 
among those seeking a strict form of modeling through color, one finds Mr. Kupka 
whose nude astonishes by its polychromatics. . . ." 8 

5 Signed Roland Catenoy, November 1, 
1911, p. 231. 

6 September 30, I9ri, p. 5. 

7 October 15, 1911, pp. 4-5. 

8 October 16, I9n,p. 872. 

Kupka, Large Nude, signed and dated 
1904, oil, present whereabouts unknown. 


43 Study for Family Portrait (Etude 
pour Portrait de famille). 1909 

Pastel on paper, i8V2 x i^Vz" 
(47 x49.5 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 


44 Family Portrait (Portraits; Portrait 
defamille). 1909-10 

Oil on canvas, 40V2 x 44W 

(103 x 112 cm.) 

Signed and dated 11 "Kupka//i9io" 

Vachtova, no. 82, color pi. Ill 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 



the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


Paris, 191 1, Salon d'Automne, no. 

812 (as Portraits) 

"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 17 

(dated 1910) 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 29, pi. II 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 7 
Edinburgh— Leeds, 1959, no. 51 
"Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, no. 

7, repr. 

Hluboke— Brno, 1966, no. 228, repr. 

"Cologne, 1967, no. 68, repr.; 
Munich, 1967, no. 68, repr.; Vienna, 
1967, no. 12; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 
14, repr.; Prague, 1968, no. 41, repr. 

Stockholm— Goteborg, 1973, no. 89 

Kupka's biographer Siblik (1929) and other writers such as Turpin (1931) state 
that Family Portrait was executed before Planes by Colors: Large Nude. This seems 
implausible for a number of reasons. A small sketchbook of 1909-10 (Private Col- 
lection, Paris) contains drawings related to the final and most stylistically advanced 
formulation of the Large Nude and a single drawing for Family Portrait which ap- 
pears to be one of its first tentative sketches. Secondly, a preliminary pastel for Fam- 
ily Portrait (cat. no. 43) shows the unusual color combinations— predominantly 
orange, purple, green— which were developed only in the last versions of the Large 
Nude. Finally, Kupka himself dated Large Nude 1909 and Family Portrait 1910. 
Although the dates were added in pencil probably many years after the paintings' 
completion and therefore cannot be considered completely reliable, presumably the 
artist remembered the order in which the paintings were done. 

Family Portrait is a more complex painting stylistically, showing two different, 
almost opposed, manners of dealing with color, form and light. In Kupka's 1912-13 
manuscript he wrote: "The painter can animate the surface according to the nature 
of his vision. From the most imposing mass of cyclopean planes, he can pass to the 
most subtle flickering of smaller planes." 1 

When this painting was first exhibited in 1911, Gustave Kahn spoke of the beauty 
and accomplishment of this "portrait of young girls, sparkling and infused with 
light." 2 The "young girls" are of course Madame Kupka and her daughter Andree. 

For a more extensive stylistic discussion of this painting, see pp. 69-70. 

1 Manuscript II, p. 45. 

2 Mercure de France, October 16, 1911, 
p. 872. 



45 Study after Girl with a Ball. 1909 

Colored crayons on paper, SVa x 4" 
(20.6 x 10.2 cm.) 

Stamped 11 "Kupka" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
A rt, New York, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Frantisek Kupka, 1956 (568.56.6) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift 

For the complete sequence of these 
works, see cat. nos. 32, 61-62. 

46 Woman Picking Floivers I (Femme 
cueillant des fleurs I). 1909-10 

Pastel on paper, 17% x 18 M" 
(45 x47 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 42, repr. 
Vachtova, addenda cat. no. 40 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 2776-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 

Kupka, Study related to Woman Picking 
Flowers I, c. 1908. 



47 Woman Picking Flowers II 
(Femme ctieillant des flews II). 

Pastel on paper, 18% x 19V2" 
(48 x49.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 43,repr. 
Vachtova, addenda cat. no. 43 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 2777-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 

Visitors to Kupka's studio in the fifties remember seeing at least fifteen pastel 
studies on this theme. Photographs of numerous drawings have also been found 
(figs., pp. 136, 141). The whereabouts of most of these are unknown today. 

It has been suggested that the source of this series was a multiple-exposure pho- 
tograph of Madame Kupka in the garden (see p. 6z). Unfortunately no photographs 
have been found. The model, as she is most clearly seen in the earlier versions, ap- 
pears closer to the model in Portrait of a Lady (cat. no. Z7) than to Madame Kupka, 


48 Woman Picking Flowers (Femme 
cueillant des fleurs). 1909-10 

Pastel on gray paper, 21 l A x 2.o 3 /a" 
(54 x 51.8 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 


.,***£-' 4 

but this is essentially unimportant since Kupka often combined models and visual 
sources into composite images. The two kinds of garden chairs in this series of 
pastels are found in photographs of Kupka's garden, as well as in other subjects 
painted after the artist's 1906 move to Puteaux. 

For an extensive discussion of this series, see pp. 60-61. 


49 Woman Picking Flowers III 

(Femme cueillant des fleurs HI). 

Pastel on cream paper, 17V& x 20 %" 
(43.5 x53 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 40, repr. 
Vachtova, addenda cat. no. 40 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 2775-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


50 Woman Picking Flowers IV 
(Femme cueillant des fleurs IV). 

Pastel on gray paper, 16V2 x i^Ys" 
(42.x 39 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 41, repr. 
Vachtova, addenda cat. no. 41 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM Z757-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 

Kupka, Study related to Woman Picking, 
Flowers IV, c. 1909. 


5 1 Woman Picking Flowers V 
(Femme ateillant des flenrs V). 

Pastel on paper, 18% x 20V2" 
(48 x 52 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 44, repr. 
Vachtova, addenda cat. no. 44 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 2778-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


52. Study for The Oval Mirror (Etude 
pour Le Miroir ovale). 1909-10 

Colored pencils on beige paper, 
4V6 x 4%" (10.5 x 12 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 37, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 

Paris (AM 2754-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


53 The Oval Mirror (he Miroir 
ovale). 19 10 

Oil on canvas, 42% x 347s" 
(108.3 x 88.6 cm.) 

Signed and dated 11 "Kupka//i9io" 

Vachtova, no. 90, repr. p. 82 (dated 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Hillman Periodicals 
Fund, 1956 (565.56) 


the artist 

to present owner 


Paris, Salon des hidependants, 191 2, 

no. 1833, 1834, or 1835 

''Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 32 (dated 

New York, 1957 
:: New York, 1961, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 4 
s 'New York, 1964, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 5 
New York, 1965; 1966; 1968, 

In contrast to the distinctly defined contours and sharply contrasted color planes 
of Large Nude and Family Portrait, The Oval Mirror is a somewhat blurred and 
structurally undefined image. Nonetheless Kupka has retained some of the formal 
characteristics of the other two works: the plans-souchettes of color (see discussion 
p. 130), here impastoed and much enlarged; and the reversal of the usual chromatic 
roles (see pp. 69-70), here a purple which advances and a green which recedes to 
yellow. The small sketch (cat. no. 52) shows these formal concerns more clearly. 

The subject of a woman looking in a mirror, one which Kupka had used before 
(see cat. no. 12) lent itself to a more ambiguous image. On the basis of his experi- 
ments in the Woman Ticking Flowers series (cat. nos. 46-51), Kupka now tried to 
dissolve the focal image, not through sequential motion but through reflection of 
a single body in space. This is consistent with the artist's ideas c. 1909-10 when he 
began exploring the distinction between movement in three-dimensional as op- 
posed to four-dimensional space. An inscribed colored crayon drawing defines and 
illustrates the two notions (fig., p. 65; see discussion pp. 65-66). 

Although Kupka may have thought that the rippling contours effected by a mir- 
ror image would generate a kinetic dimension, the painting The Oval Mirror (as 
well as the preliminary sketch) is essentially static. Yet in the two-sided drawing in- 
spired by the painting (cat. no. 54) almost imperceptibly the figure begins to turn, 
progressing from a full rear view to that of a silhouette turning toward the right. 
This rotational movement, derived from the elliptical curves of the painting, will 
lead Kupka to the subtle, more tangible shifting in space seen in The Musician 
Follot and Planes by Colors which immediately follow. 



54 Untitled (Study after The Oval 
Mirror leading into Planes by 
Colors). 1910 

Charcoal on paper, iz l A x 9" 
(3r x 23 cm.) 

Stamped 11 "Kupka;" inscribed 11 in 
unknown hand "199" 

on reverse, pastel 
Stamped 11 "Kupka" 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


i< ■»■ 




Frank KUPKA 


5 5 Portrait of The Musician Follot 
(Portrait du musicien Follot). 

Oil on canvas, 28 V^ x z6V&" 
(72.4 x 66.3 cm.) 

Inscribed, signed and dated lr "A 

mon ami//G. Follot//Kupka// 


Collection The Museum of Modern 

Art, New York, Hillman Periodicals 

Fund, 1956 (564.56) 


the artist 

to present owner 


Paris, 1912, Salon des Independants, 

no. 1833, 1834 or 1835 

''Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 18 

(asPortrait, dated 1910-11) 
'Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 31 (dated 

New York, 1957, MOMA 
New York, MOMA, May 4-July 5, 
i960, Portraits from the Museum 
Collection. Traveled throughout the 
United States, February 15, 1961- 
February 28, 1964. 
New York, 1964, Royal S. Marks 
(not on checklist) 
New York, 1968, MOMA 

4#. »*» vs 

1 Quoted by Fedit, in conversation with 
the author, 1974. 

Apparently Kupka said in reference to this picture that he was trying to abolish the 
notion of time. 1 In the context of his work and thinking of this period, one can 
understand his statement to mean an attempt to replace sequential motion by an 
almost imperceptible shifting in space which would abolish the notion of consecu- 
tive moments in time. This would ultimately lead to his concept of simultaneity 
(see discussion pp. 64-65). 

In composition and palette, Follot is extremely close to Planes by Colors (cat. no. 
59). However, partly because the subject is less appropriate to the concept, and 
partly because this painting was done somewhat earlier, the impression of shifting 
in space remains slight. 


56 Study for Planes by Colors (Etude 
pour Plans par conleurs). 1909-10 

Pastel on paper, 2.1V2 x i8Vs" 
(54.6 x 46 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i909" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 



57 Study for Planes by Colors (Etude 
pour Plans par couleurs). 1909-10 

Pastel on paper, zz x 17V6" 
(56x45.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM Z779-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 

58 Study for Planes by Colors (Etude 
pour Plans par couleurs). 1909-10 

Pencil on paper, S l A x ^A" 
(21 x iz.5 cm.) 

Stamped Ic "Kupka;" signed 11 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

' W*- ^vj*>&C> 


59 Planes by Colors (Plans par 
conleiirs). 1910-11 

Oil on canvas, 43% x 39%" 
(no x 100 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka// 

Fedit, no. 48, repr. color 
Vachtova, no. 88, repr. p. in 

Collection Musee National d'Art 
Moderne, Paris (AM 3549-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, 1957 


Paris, 1912, Salon des bidependants, 
no. 1833, 1834 or 1835 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 9 
''Cologne, 1967, no. n, repr. color; 
Munich, 1967, no. n, repr.; Vienna, 
1967, no. 13, repr. color; Amster- 
dam, 1968, no. 16, repr. black and 
white, color; Prague, 1968, no. 43, 
repr. black and white, color 
Milan, 1973, no. 149, repr. 

Drawings found among Kupka's personal notes indicate that the three paintings 
entitled Plans par couleurs exhibited at the 19 11 Salon des bidependants were our 
catalogue numbers 53, 55 and the present painting. Roger Allard, in reviewing the 
19 1 2 Salon said, "the post-cubist fantasies by Kupka and Juan Gris are rather in- 
significant." 1 It is worth noting that Juan Gris' "post-cubist fantasy" was his Hom- 
mage a Picasso {Portrait of Picasso, 1911-iz, Art Institute of Chicago). 

For a detailed discussion of this painting, see pp. 62-64, 72. 

1 La Revue de France, March 1912, p. 72. 



60 Chromatic Scale (Gamine chro- 
matique). 1910-11 

Pastel and colored crayons on paper, 
9% x SVs" (25 x 20.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Lent by Spencer A. Samuels and 
Company, Ltd. 


the artist 

Estate of the artist 
Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris 
to present owner 

Both formally and chromatically, this pastel is related to the Woman Picking Flow- 
ers series and the pastel studies for Planes by Colors. It is an important transitional 
work exemplifying Kupka's shift of focus from a subject subdivided rhythmically 
by a vertical grid to an abstract pattern of pure rhythmic planes. 


6ia-c Three studies after Girl with a 

Ball and for The Fugue (mounted 
in a single mat). 1908-09 

a. Colored crayons on paper, 
10% x SVi" (27 x 21 cm.) 

Signed and dated 11 "Kupka//i9o8" 

b. Colored crayons on paper, 
8% x 7V2" (20.8 x 19 cm.) 

Signed and dated 11 "Kupka//i9o8" 

c. Colored crayons on paper, 
6 5 /sx 6" (16.8x15 cm.) 
Signed lc "Kupka"; inscribed Ir 
"origine de la technique/Vemployee 
a la charpente//de la Fugue." 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Frantisek Kupka, 1956 (568.56.8-3-1) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift 




6z Study after Girl with a Ball and 
for The Fugue. 1909 

Colored crayons on paper, 8VS x 5V4" 
(21.2 x 13.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka"; inscribed 11 
"Genese des disques//et de la 
<Fugue' " 

Private Collection, New York City 


the artist 

to present owner, 1955 

For the complete sequence of these 
works, see cat. nos. 32, 45, 61. 


63 Study for Amorpha, Fugue in Two 
Colors (Etude pour Amorpha, 
Fugue a deux couleurs). 1910-11 

Oil on canvas, 44 x 27" 
(in. 8 x 68.5 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Contemporary Collection of The 
Cleveland Museum of Art (69.51) 


the artist 

Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Liberman, 


to present owner, 1969 


"Prague, 1946, Manes (installation 

*New York, 1961, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 1 
:: "New York, 1964, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 1 
Buffalo-Dayton-Cleveland, 1970 
(hors catalogue; shown at Cleveland 

For a detailed discussion of this 
painting, see p. 71. 


64 Study for Vertical Planes (Etude 
pour Plans verticaux).c. 1910-n 

Pastel on paper, 8 x 8%" 
(20.3 x 22.3 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, New York, Gift of 
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Liberman, 
1974 (2124) 


the artist 

Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Liberman, 


to present owner, gift 




6$ Arrangement of Verticals (Ordon- 
nance sur verticales). 1910-11 

Pastel on gray paper, 18% x 19%" 
(48 x 50 cm.) 

Signed lr"Kupka" 52, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 2780-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 



66 Arrangement of Verticals in 
Yellow (Ordonnance sur verti- 
cals en jaune). 1910-11 

Oil on canvas, 27V2 x 27V2" 
(70 x 70 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka/71913" 

Fedit, no. 51, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 3558-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, 1957 


"Paris, 1958, MNAM (hors catalogue) 
Grenoble, 1963, no. 15 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 13, repr.; 
Munich, 1967, no. 13, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 24, repr. p. 32; Amster- 
dam, 1968, no. 21, repr.; Prague, 

1968, no. 49, repr. 

Many of Kupka's abstract paintings derive from a perceptual experience of the 
real world which, when translated into purely pictorial terms, lose all visible 
relationship to the original subject matter. It is quite possible that Arrangement 
of Verticals in Yellow and a companion painting simply called Arrangement of 
Verticals (MNAM, Paris) were inspired by the interior of a Gothic cathedral. The 
thin vertical planes which scan the surface may refer to the closely massed columns 
of a church interior through which the stained glass windows flicker like shards 
of purple light. The companion painting is predominantly gray with red and blue 
accents in the upper part, again evoking stone columns and stained glass windows. 

However, as we can see, the perceptual experience was a mere point of departure 
for a stringently regulated abstract composition. Although there is a definite shift- 
ing in space between the planes on the surface and others which appear to recede 
slightly into depth, the dominant impression is of an even all-over pattern. 

Since these paintings derive directly from the Vloman Picking Flowers series (see 
cat. no. 51) it is impossible to accept Kupka's 1913 date. 


V * 


t !i 


6-j Study for The Language of Ver- 
ticals (Etude pour Le Langage des 
verticales). 1910-11 

Brown ink wash on gray paper, 
16V4 x i-jW (41.3 x 44.2. cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 


68 "Copenetrations" ("Conpenetra- 
tions"). 1 1910-11 

Oil on canvas, 29% x 32.V2" 
(75.5x82.5 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection, New York City 


the artist 

to present owner, 1956 

1 Owner's title. The title appears 
nowhere on the painting or in any of 
the artist's documentation. The owner 
prefers this spelling. The correct 
French spelling is Compenetrations. 

The inspiration for Copenetrations was probably the same as that of Arrangement 
of Verticals in Yellow (cat. no. 66). Here the treatment is bolder and flatter, and 
the planes are shorter, more randomly distributed and more aggressively super- 
imposed upon the surface. Furthermore the color is more arbitrary. A continuous 
arabesque links the bright floral clusters of color which weave in and out between 
the floating planes. The inner articulation of these color forms evokes the tri- 
angulated panes of stained glass, an articulation found again in both the Amorphas 
of 1912 and much other work prior to 1913-14. 

This is one of the few paintings one would be tempted to interpret in terms of 
music: as a melody unfolding in even measures of time. The melody (in a major 
key) here forecasts Amorpha, Fugue in Tivo Colors of 1912; in fact the continuous 
arabesque motif appears again in a pastel study for that painting (Cassou-Fedit, 
Kupka, Paris, 1964, repr. p. 23). The stacked planes of color may be read as stacked 
notes or chords like those seen in Piano-Keys-Lake (cat. no. 39); their color implies 
a minor key. 

Aside from this reading however, in strictly formal terms, this painting contains 
the primary motifs of Kupka's major paintings of 19 12: Vertical Planes, Amorpha, 
Fugue and Amorpha, Warm Chromatics. 


6<) Study for Nocturne (Etude pour 
Nocturne). 1910-11 

Colored pencils on paper, 8Vs x 5V6" 
(20.5 x 13 cm.) 

Stamped lr "Kupka"; inscribed 

r margin "dissection du repoussoir" 

Fedit, no. 46; repr. 

Musee Nationale d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM Z7Z1-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


70 Nocturne (Nocturne). 19 n 

Oil on canvas, 26 x 26" {66 x 66 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 153, repr. p. 109 

Collection Museum des 20. 
Jahrhunderts, Vienna 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner 


*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 40 

(dated 191 1) 
*Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 64 (dated 

Paris, 1949, Maeght, no. 27 (dated 
19 10) 
*New York, 1951, Louis Carre, no. 1, 

*Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 10 (dated 

1910-n), pi. Ill 
Paris, i960, MNAM, no. 357, repr. 
*Paris, 1964, Louis Carre, no. 1 
s 'Vienna, 1967, no. 1 1, repr. color; 

Amsterdam, 1968, no. 22, repr. 

1 Manuscript II, p. 11. 

An oil study for Nocturne, inscribed 1906, shows a blurred nocturnal waterscape 
in tones of deep blue. Not surprisingly, it is reminiscent of Whistler's famous 
Nocturne, Blue and Gold, exhibited in Paris in 1905 in a large memorial retro- 
spective of the American artist's work. Many of Whistler's paintings bore the title 
Nocturne; many others were simply called Arrangement, such as the Portrait of 
the Artist's Mother, otherwise known as Arrangement in Gray and Black. Kupka's 
titles, such as Arrangement of Verticals in Yellow, seem to echo Whistler's. 

The small drawing for Nocturne (cat. no. 69) shows an attempt once again to 
come to terms with an elimination of perspective. The artist has superimposed 
large vertical slabs of midnight blue in the frontal plane over a sketchily suggested 
pond or waterfall (see the Tate Gallery's Waterfall, dated 1906). The marginal 
notes instruct: "dissect the underlying space." 

In the final version, the surface is veiled with a screen of blue planes. Kupka 
wrote in 1912-13: "Look what happens at twilight; when the blue screen of falling 
night leaves only the luminous values of blues, violets, cold greens, while the 
complimentaries yellows and reds become shadows." 1 The vertical emphasis of the 
earlier works (cat. nos. 64-68) has been disarticulated and spread in an all-over 
pattern. By reducing the palette to the single key of blue, Kupka eliminated contrast 
and surface-depth illusions. The result is a sheet of vibrating units of light. 


71 Red and Blue Disks (Disques 
rouges etbleus). 1911-12 

Oil on canvas, 39% x 28M" 

(100x73 cm -) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka// 


Vachtova, no. 98, repr. p. 83 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, Purchase, 195 1 
(141. 51) 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner 


"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 131, 

(dated 1911) 
Paris, 1949, Maeght, no. 29 (dated 

*New York, 1951, Louis Carre, no. 3 
New York, 1952; 1954; 1955; 1957, 
,f "New York, 1961, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 5 
New York, 1964; 1965, MOMA 
New York, 1965, M. Knoedler, no. 26 
New York, 1966, Public Education 
Association, no. 94 
New York, 1966; 1969; July-Novem- 
ber 1971; November-December 1971; 
1972, MOMA 

For an extensive discussion of this 
picture, see pp. 72-73. 


72. Study for Disks of Newton (Etude 
pour Disques de Newton). 

Pastel on paper, 9V2 x 10V2" 
(24.2 x 26.7 cm.) 

Inscribed lr "A mon cher ami/ / 
Lieberman [sic]"; signed and dated ur 
(upside down) "Kupka//II//i9i2" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Alexander 


the artist 

to present owner, 1950's 


73 Disks of Newton, Study for Fugue 
in Two Colors (Disques de New- 
ton, Etude pour la Fugue a deux 
couleurs). 1911-12 

Oil on canvas, ic^-k x 25 Vs" 
(49.5 x65 cm.) 

Dated, signed and inscribed lr 
"11-12 Kupka//Etude pour la Fugue 
a deux couleurs" 

Fedit, no. 62, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 3 63 5 -P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1959 


"Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 10 or 11 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 132 
"Paris, 1953, Salon des Kealites 

Nouvelles, no. XLIV-F 
Paris, 1954, Salon des Independants, 
no. 1631 

Sao Paulo, 1957, no. 40 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 19, pi. VII 
Houston, 1965, no. 51 
Buffalo-Dayton-Cleveland, 1970, 
no. 22, repr. 

San Diego-Oakland-Seattle, 1971, 
no. 40, repr. color (inaccurate) 
Milan, 1973, no. 148, repr. 

For discussion, see p. 73. 


74 Study for Disks of Newton (Etude 
pour Disques de Newton). 

Gouache on paper, 12% x 9%" 
(32 x25 cm.) 

Signed 1 of c "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 63, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 2789-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


75 Disks of Newton, Study for Fugue 
in Two Colors (Disques de New- 
ton, Etude pour la Fugue a deux 
coideurs). 1911-12 

Oil on canvas, 39V2 x 29" 

(77-5X73-6 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Philadelphia Museum of Art, The 
Louise and Walter Arensberg 


the artist 

Walter Arensberg, 1937 

to present owner 


*Paris, i924,laBoetie, no. 10 or n 
New York, 1936, no. 114, fig. 60 
Chicago, 1949, no. 128, repr. 
Philadelphia, 1954, no. 123, repr. 
Newark, 1956, no. 35 
New York, i 9 6i,SRGM 
*New York, 1968, Spencer A. 

Samuels, no. 26, repr. 
Buffalo-Dayton-Cleveland, 1970, 
no. 23, repr. (shown at Buffalo only) 
San Diego-Oakland-Seattle, 1971, 
no. 42, repr. color (inaccurate) 
New York, October 1972-January 
1973, MOMA, no. 46 


iscussion, see p. 74. 


j6 Study. 1910-11 

Watercolor on paper, 4V2 x 7" 
(11. 6x 17.8 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Private Collection, New York City 


the artist 

to present owner 


77 Study for Cosmic Spring I (Etude 
pour Printemps cosmique I). 19 11 

Watercolor on paper, 9V6 x yVs" 
(23.3 x 2.3.3 cm -) 
Signed 11 "Kupka" 
Private Collection 


the artist 
previous owner 
to present owner 

This is obviously a study for Cosmic Spring I (fig.)- Yet structurally it forecasts 
Amorpha, Warm Chromatics in its intertwined arcs on the left and the curving 
bands and small dappled motifs on the right. It anticipates Amorpha, Fugue hi 
Two Colors in somewhat similar formal concerns. The genesis of these varied 
themes in a single work of this kind gives some insight into the complexity of 
Kupka's creative process. 

Kupka, Cosmic Spring I, 191 1-20, oil 
NG, Prague. 


78 Study for Cosmic Spring and 
Amorpba, Fugue in Tivo Colors 
(Etude pour Frintemps cosmique 
et pour Amorpba, Fugue a deux 
couleurs). 1911-12 

Gouache on paper, 13% x 14V2" 
(35 x 36.8 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Alexander 



the artist 

to present owner, 1950's 









79 Irregular Forms: Creation 

(Formes irregulieres: Creation). 

Oil on canvas, 42.V2 x 42V2" 
(108 x 108 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka"; inscribed 

11 "formes irregulieres// creation" 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 
Estate of David E. Bright 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

Richard L. Feigen, Inc., Chicago 

David E. Bright, Los Angeles 

to present owner from Estate of 

David E. Bright, 1967 


Sao Paulo, 1957, no. 42 

*Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 16 

Los Angeles, Ambassador Hotel, 

February 1961, Living ivitb Famous 


Los Angeles, 1967, repr. color 

*New York, 1968, Spencer A. 

Samuels, no. 23, repr. 
San Diego-Oakland-Seattle, 1971, 
no. 38, repr. color, p. 69 
Pittsburgh, 1974, no. 41, repr. 
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 
October 17-December 17, 1967, 
David E. Bright Collection 


I In Edouard-Joseph, Dictionnaire bio- 
graphique des artistes contemporains, 
1910-1930, Vol. II, Paris, 1931, p. 286. 
Text signed by Georges Turpin. This 
text was essentially dictated by Kupka. 

Kupka's cosmic themes and those alluding to primordial genesis such as seen in 
this painting, are among the earliest of what the artist called his "imaginary" or 
"created" motifs. Kupka described these in the following terms: "Chaotic forms 
circulating like clouds in spaces of a kind never seen before, bizarre and sometimes 
monstrous worlds, created from scratch by the painter's poetic imagination." 1 Al- 
though the basic theme derived from the artist's imagination rather than from the 
immediately perceived world, he often used visual documents from the world of 
nature to support and define his vision. However, this painting appears more 
visionary than scientific in its vivid and vigorous inchoate forms spiraling around 
a center of infinite depth and weightless atmosphere. 


8o Creation (Creation). 1911-zo 

Oil on canvas, 45% x 49%" 
(115 x 125 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 
Vachtova, no. 189, color pi. XVII 
Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(o 3837) 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


"Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 1 
"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 19 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 33 
Paris, 1949, Maeght, repr. p. 194 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 18 
"Pi'sek— Ceske Budejovice, 'on '1961 

12, repr. 
Dobruska, 1962 
"Paris, 1964, Louis Carre, no. 11 

(as Creation I, dated 1920) 
"Prague, 1965, no. 7 
"'Usti nad Orlici, 1965, no. 1, repr. 2 
Hluboke-Brno, 1966, no. 230, repr. 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 69, repr. color; 

Munich, 1967, no. 69, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 14, repr. no. 17, color; 
Amsterdam, 1968, no. 49, repr. 
black and white, color; Prague, 

1968, no. 53, repr. color 
Geneva, 1970, no. 69, repr. color on 
cover; Zurich, 1970, no. 69, repr. 
color on cover 

Turin, 1971, p. 272, repr. 
Stockholm-Goteborg, 1973, no. 91, 
repr. color (on its side) 

Conceived in 1911, this painting was reworked in 1920. Although the formal 
structure remains essentially the same as that of Irregular Forms: Creation (cat. no. 
79) the individual motifs have been hardened, and the central spatial thrust 
extended to infinity, thus making the whole composition more dramatic. The 
chiseled silhouettes of the foreground shapes and their curved arrangement around 
an undulating blue ground suggest that Kupka may have been referring to geo- 
logical configurations seen in Brittany, where he vacationed over the years and 
returned in 1920 (fig.). Whatever the inspiration, the highly contrasted forms 
and dramatic thrust into infinite space create a vertiginous impression of the 
emergent cosmos. 

1909. ■ LE POULDD. - L« Plaga de Koreoo 

Postcard sent by Kupka from Brittany to 
Gallien, July 5, 1927. 




Si Irregular Forms: Release (Formes 
irregulieres: afiranchissement). 

Oil on canvas, 2.ei x h x 33'4" 
(75 x 84.4 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka;" inscribed 11 
"formes irregulieres//affran- 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Arnold A. 
Saltzman, Great Neck, New York 


the artist 

grandfather of previous owner 

previous owner 

to present owner, October 1971 

8 2 Cosmic Spring 11 (Print emps 

cosmique 11). 1911-20; repainted 

Oil on canvas, 45^ X49 1 ,4" 
(115 x 125 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 192, repr. p. 152; 
color pi. XVI 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(o 3820) 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


"Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 3 
*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 20 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 34 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 17 

*Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, no. 

11, repr. 
Hluboke-Brno, 1966, no. 229 
London, 1967, no. 76 

Brussels-Rotterdam, 1967, no. 76, 

"Prague, 1968, no. 55, repr. 

Rome, 1969, no. 1, repr. (on its side) 

Stockholm-Goteborg, 1973, no. 92 

Although reworked in 1920 and perhaps again c. 1934 (see Vachtova, p. 276), 
Cosmic Spring 11 retains much of the basic structural composition of its initial 
conception which was close to that of its pendant Cosmic Spring 1 (NG, Prague, 
fig., p. 169). The 1920 modifications may have included a brightening of the palette, 
a tightening of the forms and superficial bands of shadow on either side (see 
Vachtova, p. 278). In the final version, Kupka darkened the bands of shadow and 
obliterated the cloud and crystalline motifs in the lower central portion. 

Kupka liked to maintain that these images were the pure fruits of his imagina- 
tion. Yet it is obvious that he drew on photographs or models of the moon for 
their formulation. In Cosmic Spring 11, the deep grooves of the lunar surface fan 
out from a large volcanic crater or cirque in the upper left corner (see fig.). 


Janssen, Photograph of the moon, taken 
at the Meudon Observatory, January 


8 3 Study for Amorpha, Fugue in Two 
Colors and Amorpha, Warm 
Chromatics (Etude pour 
Amorpha, Fugue a deux couleurs 
et pour Amorpha, Chromatique 
chaude). 1911-12 

Oil on canvas, 33V2 x 50%" 
(85 x 128 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 61, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 4173-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


*Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 8 or 9 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 133 (dated 

"Paris, 1953, Salon des Realites 

Nouvelles (hors catalogue) 
Sao Paulo, 1957, no. 39 (as Estudo) 
"'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 20 
Grenoble, 1963, no. 22 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 18, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 18, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 19; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 

19, repr. twice; Prague, 1968, no. 

42a, repr. 


It is difficult to situate this work in Kupka's progression from the first studies of 
rotation (1908-09) to the two Amorpha paintings of 19 12. One may merely identify 
it as a study of motion, light and color, parallel to the Disks of Newton series and 
the cosmic themes. Yet it would be tempting to define this image as an unfolding 
of consecutive phases of motion moving toward its synthesis, a synthesis which 
will be achieved in the two Amorphas where movement is not overtly demonstrated 
but contained. 


84 Study related to Amorpha, Fugue 
in Two Colors and Amorpha, 
Warm Chromatics. 1911-12 

Pastel on paper, $ l A x SVa" 
(21 x 21 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, New York, Gift, 
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Liberman, 


the artist 

Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Liberman, 


to present owner, gift 


85 Study related to Amorpha, Warm 
Chromatics. 1911-12 

Pastel on paper, 9% x % x k" 
(24.8 x 20.6 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris 
Saidenberg Gallery, New York 
to present owner, October 1970 

86 Amorpha, Warm Chromatics 

(Amorpha, Chromatique chaude). 

Oil on canvas, 42V: x 42V2" 
(108 x 108 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka;" inscribed and 
dated 11 "Amorpha— chromatique 

Vachtova, no. 141, color pi. IV 

Private Collection 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


Paris, 19 1 2, Salon d'Antomne, no. 926 

"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 134 (dated 

Paris, 1947, Salon des Realties 

Houston, 1965, no. 50 

Sao Paulo, 1957, no. 41 

"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 23 

Amorpha, Warm Chromatics, like Amorpha, Fugue, is a composite image deriving 
from diverse sources, images and impressions. The general organization is very 
close to a work which precedes it slightly (cat. no. 83). One may also relate it 
chromatically to still earlier works, the artist's studies of church interiors (cat. no. 
66) — here enhanced by the vaulted patterns— and his studies of cosmic space (cat. 
no. 77) which foreshadow this configuration in formal terms. The intellectual 
and pictorial processes by which Kupka arrived at this purely abstract composition 
are indicative of his fundamental aesthetic which is based on an attempt to depict 
the laws of the macrocosm through microcosmic phenomena. Here he has identi- 
fied the simplified formal patterns of the vaulted church interior with the rotational 
patterns and forms of the cosmic order. 

In Amorpha, Fugue of the same year, Kupka was concerned with pure color 
refracting light. In Amorpha, Warm Chromatics, however he uses mixed colors in 
a more conventional fashion to produce the illusion of light. For this reason, one 
may suggest that Amorpha, Warm Chromatics is the earlier of the two paintings. 



87 Study for Amorpha, Fugue in Two 
Colors. 1911-12 

Pastel on paper, iz l A x i2. 3 4" 
(31. 1 x 32.4 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Private Collection, New York 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

Like the early studies for Cosmic Spring to which it is related (cat. nos. 77, 78), 
this pastel maintains the primary emphasis in the left foreground of the composi- 
tion. However the intersecting zones of dappled light and shadow in the earlier 
studies have here been distilled into unified ribbons of color intertwined in a 
rotational movement. 

During the period 1911-12, Kupka did a large number of preparatory studies for 
Amorpha, Fugue in which the interlaced arabesque motif appears on the right or 
the left interchangeably (see cat. nos. 88-91). 


Study for Amorpha, Fugue in Two 
Colors. 19 1 2 

Gouache on paper, %Y% x 9" 
(21.4 x 22.8 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Frantisek Kupka, 1956 (569.56.13) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift 



89 Study for Amorpha, Fugue in Two 
Colors. 1912 

Gouache on paper, 8% x 9" 
(21.4 x 22.8 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Frantisek Kupka, 1956 (569.56.14) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift 


9<3 Study for Amorpha, Fugue in Two 
Colors. 19 1 z 

Gouache on paper, %% x 9" 
(21.4 x 22.8 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Frantisek Kupka, 1956 (569.56.15) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift 

9i Study for Amorpha, Fugue in Two 
Colors. 1912 

Gouache on paper, 8Mtx 8%" 
(20.8 x 22.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, gift of Mr. and Mrs. 
Frantisek Kupka, 1956 (569.56.16) 


the artist 

to present owner, gift 


Amorpha, Fugue in Two Colors 
(Amorpha, Fugue a deux 
couleurs). 1912 

Oil on canvas, 83% x 86%" 
(211 x 220 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka;" inscribed II 
"fugue a deux couleurs" 

Vachtova, no. 139, repr. p. 281; 
color pi. V 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(O 5942) 


the artist 

Picture Gallery of Prague Castle 

to present owner, 1953 


Paris, 191 2, Salon d'Automne, no. 925 
! 'Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 7 (dated 

Lille, 1925, no. 1 

!: "Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 32 
:: 'Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 130 (dated 

1910-12), pi. VIII 
-Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 22, pi. VIII 

,: Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, no. 8, 

''Prague, 1968, no. 42, repr. black and 

white, color 

1 Handwritten manuscript in French. 
Long, wordy and written in Kupka's 
sometimes byzantine style, some parts 
will be paraphrased here. Kupka wrote 
many autobiographical texts such as 
this one, in the third person, in which 
numerous disparities are found. Dates 
are often cited incorrectly, as are 
sequences of paintings and events. 
Furthermore, at times one can see a 
tendency to romanticize his own 
development. Nonetheless, despite the 
lack of reliability, this text shows how 
Kupka saw his own development at a 
given time. 

2 Manuscript I, 1910-ir. 

3 Mercare de France, November r, 1912, 
p. 181. 

In an autobiography written around 1926-27, Kupka described his transition to 
abstraction and his development to Amorpha, Fugue of 1912. 1 In 1911, during a 
critical period in his art, a musician friend Morse-Rummel, an admirable inter- 
preter of Bach fugues, used to come to visit him. "Yes, fugues," wrote Kupka, 
"where the sounds evolve like veritable physical entities, intertwine, come and go." 
Could one not conceive a painting of similarly orchestrated visual terms, Kupka 
wondered, a painting where subject matter is eliminated and only the painter's 
understanding and interpretation of a theme remains? The artist's first experiments 
showed "masses of clouds with the colors of flowers, forms reminiscent of marine 
flora, interpenetrations of many colored disks. These laborious beginnings pro- 
duced monstrosities, resembling a madman's imaginary visions. So Kupka at- 
tempted to discipline them according to the implacable logic of the painted canvas." 
Seeking to translate them in more "absolute" terms, he could only resort to "a kind 
of geometrization, eliminating the trompe-l'oeil of perspective. Thus the third di- 
mension fell by the wayside, that third dimension against which Maurice Denis had 
revolted and Odilon Redon in part as well. As for color, sometimes prismatic, some- 
times recalling the eighteenth century— an analogy between the fugues Rummel 
played or others by Seurat, Signac, Debussy, Deodat de Severac— color must speak 
as forcibly as form, that is if color itself does not determine the whole construction 
of the painting." 

Further on, Kupka added that since his canvases were rhythmic, the analogy be- 
tween music and painting seemed obvious, particularly in view of the musical ref- 
erence in the title of the Fugue. Yet, according to Kupka, he chose this title after the 
fact, almost by default, for lack of a better one. 

This account of Kupka's development from a figurative to an abstract idiom is 
the fullest we have from his hand. At one point, he says that the Fugue came from 
the reds and blues of Family Portrait (cat. no. 44). On other occasions, Kupka at- 
tributed his inspiration to stained glass windows, and indeed his preoccupation 
with light reflection and refraction is paramount throughout this period, inspired 
by his visits to Gothic cathedrals. He even mentions that the best solution for what 
he is seeking would be achieved by painting on glass. 2 Finally the abundant studies 
show still other formal preoccupations: separate yet interlacing strands of color, 
kaleidoscopic patterns, cosmic rhythms, disjointed and overlapping rhythmic sil- 
houettes. And of course the diagrams after the Girl with a Ball and their extension 
into rotational figures and cosmic disks cannot be overlooked as another dimension 
of his inspiration. However, whether based on human rhythms, stained glass pat- 
terns, cosmic rotation or another source, in its final form, Amorpha, Fugue shows 
a consummate synthesis of intellectual, instinctive and pictorial ideas. 

Exhibited in 191 2 alongside Matisse's Nasturtiums and "Dance" (Pushkin Mu- 
seum, Moscow), Picabia's Procession and Cubist paintings by Gleizes, Metzinger 
and La Fresnaye, it is not surprising that Amorpha, Fugue provoked general dismay 
or hilarity on the part of critics and general public alike. Gustave Kahn, who had 
been sympathetic to Kupka's earlier work was disconcerted: "the elegant chromatic 
arabesques based on feminine lines by Mr. Kupka are games which are not within 
everyone's reach. Even with the greatest sympathy for the Cubist effort, one cannot 
yet admire these works." 3 

Amorpha, Fugue in Two Colors was the first purely abstract painting exhibited 
in Paris. 


i8 5 

93 Etching related to Amorpha, 
Fugue in Two Colors. 19 13 

Color etching, 9V2 x 6%" 
(24 x 16 cm.) 

Signed and dated in plate 11 "Kupka" 

lr "1913" 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

94 Elevation (Elevation). 1911-12 

Colored crayons on paper, 
11% x 8V2" (29 x 21.5 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Courtesy Galerie Denise Rene, Paris 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Karl Flinker 
to present owner 


95 Study. 1911-12. 

Pastel on brown paper, 16 x 87s" 
(40.6 x 21.5 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection The Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, The Joan and Lester 
Avnet Fund, 1967 


the artist 

Private Collection 
Graham Gallery, New York 
to present owner 


96 Vertical Planes 1 (Plans verticaux 
I). 1912 

Oil on canvas, 59% x 37" 

(150 x 94 cm.) 

Signed and dated 11 "Kupka//i9i2" 

Fedit, no. 55, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (J. deP. 807) 


the artist 

Musee des Ecoles Etrangeres 

Contemporaines (Musee du Jeu de 

Paume), 1936 

to present owner, transferred, 1945 


'■Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 12 (dated 

''Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 40 
(dated 1912-13) 

Paris, 1937, no. 163 

Paris, 1949, Maeght, repr. p. 197 (as 

Plans verticaux no. 2) 

Birmingham, 1956 

London, 1956 

'■Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 24, pi. V 

''"Cologne, 1967, no. 14, repr. color; 
Munich, 1967, no. 14, repr.; Vienna, 
1967, no. 18, repr. color; Amster- 
dam, 1968, no. 28, repr. black and 
white, color; Prague, 1968, no. 45, 
repr. black and white, color 

San Diego-Oakland-Seattle, 1971, 

no. 43, repr. color (inaccurate) 

Just as Amorpba, Fugue is the culmination of Kupka's studies of color and rota- 
tional movement, Vertical Planes I and III are the consummate expression of the 
theme of verticality which started to emerge in his work as early as 1906. Whereas 
the paintings of 1909-1911 showed broad impastoed brushstrokes superimposed 
on the surface and enmeshed in a closely woven fabric of planes, in Vertical Planes I 
the planes relate to an entirely different level of experience. Earlier, Kupka referred 
to his perceptual experience; here he is attempting to illustrate the abstract idea of 
verticality itself. 

In 1912-13, Kupka evoked the "rectilinear world" as abstract and immaterial: 
"A rectilinear order appears as the most energetic, abstract, elegant, absolute order 
. . . The vertical line is like a man standing erect, where the above and the below, 
top and bottom are suspended and, since they stretch from one to the other, they 
are united, identical, one." He concludes, "Profound and silent, a vertical plane 
helps the whole concept of space to emerge." 1 

In contrast to the earlier pictures noted above, these planes are suspended on a 
thinly painted ground which connotes an infinite spatial continuum. Free from con- 
tours, their diagonally sliced upper and lower edges produce an effect of floating 
and a slight turning in space. The delicate colors and their relationships emphasize 
the ephemeral elusive quality of the composition. 

Finally, in the same text, Kupka says: "Have you never had the experience of 
having a 'vertical' intrude upon your vision? It is the shadow of an eyelash which 
has fallen before the eye and divides the field of sight." 2 Kupka returned to this 
analogy time and again. This reference to personal physiological experience reveals 
almost a mystical, visionary dimension in his pictorial investigations — as concen- 
trated physiological experience is sublimated into mystical experience in many 
disciplines. This dimension cannot be overlooked, but should not be overempha- 
sized. The pictorial objective had priority. On a small study, Kupka wrote: "Syn- 
thesis/ the pre-existing form/ the elementary through vertical planes/ planes of 
force:/ verticals/ vertical symmorphy." 3 

Just as the Amorpba, Fugue was a "symmorphy of colors," this painting was in- 
tended as a "symmorphy" or formal orchestration of planes. 

1 Manuscript IV, p. 52. 

2 Formulation taken from Manuscript II, 
P- 35- 

3 In the MOMA Study Collection. 



97 Vertical Planes III (Plans verticaux 
III). 19 1 2- 1 3 

Oil on canvas, 78% x 46V2" 
(200 x 118 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka;" inscribed and 

dated 11 "plans//verticaux// 


Vachtova, no. 160, color pi. VIII 

Collection Narodnf Galerie, Prague 



the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


Paris, 19 1 3, Salon des Independants, 

no. 1720 

Paris, 1926, Grand Palais, no. 1 378 

(as Plans verticaux) 

Paris, 1934, Salon des Independants, 

no. 2443 

New York, 1936, no. 116, fig. 62 

:: "Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 41 

(dated 1912-13) 
^Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 67 (dated 


Tisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, 

no. 9, repr. 
'Prague, 1965, no. 4 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 70, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 70, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 21, repr. p. 30; Amster- 
dam, 1968, no. 31, repr.; Prague, 

1968, no. 46, repr. 

Geneva, 1970, no. 68, repr.; Zurich, 

1970, no. 68, repr. 

Venice, 1972 

Stockholm— Goteborg, 1973, no. 93 

Vertical Planes II has either been lost or was destroyed by Kupka. Vertical Planes 
111 has been identified as the painting exhibited at the 19 13 Independants. However 
one reviewer of the exhibition described the painting as "several stripes of brown 
on a gray ground." 1 Either the critic's visual memory failed him, or the painting 
exhibited was not this picture. Kupka always maintained that it was this one. 

In 1936, Alfred Barr exhibited this painting in his epoch-making exhibition 
Cubism and Abstract Art. In the catalogue he wrote: "At the end of the year [1912] 
Kupka began the final version of Vertical Planes the first studies of which had been 
done in 1911. Its cold gray rectangles sharpened by a single violet plane anticipate 
the geometric compositions of Malevich, Arp and Mondrian. Vertical Planes was 
exhibited at the Independants in the spring of 1913. Within a year's time Kupka 
had painted what are probably the first geometrical curvilinear and the first recti- 
linear pure-abstractions in modern art. In comparison with these conclusive and 
carefully considered achievements the slightly earlier abstractions of Kandinsky 
and Larionov seem tentative." 2 

1 lntransigeant, March I9t3. Cited in 
Arnould-Gremilly, 1922, p. 73. 

2 Barr, Alfred H., Jr., Cubism and 
Abstract Art, New York, 1936, pp. 




98 Untitled. 19 13 

Etching, 9V2 x 614" (14 x 16 cm. 
Signed in plate lr "Kupka" 
Collection Karl Flinker 

the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

99 The Cathedral (La Catbedrale). 

Oil on canvas, 70% x S9 l /s" 
(180 x 150 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 164, repr. p. 140, color 
pi. XI 

Private Collection 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner, 1975 


:: 'New York, 1953, Rose Fried, no. 8 

Lausanne, 1955, no. 43 

*Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 31 (dated 

i9i 3 ),pl.XII 
*Paris, 1964, Louis Carre, no. 4 



ioo Study related to The Cathedral. 
c. 19 1 3 

Gouache on paper, 26% x 19%" 
(67.7 x 50.2 cm.) 

Signed lr"Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 


ioi Vertical and Diagonal Planes 
(Plans verticaux et diagonaux). 

Oil on canvas, 22 x 15%" 
(55.9 x40 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection McCrory Corporation, 
New York 


the artist 

Marcel Duchamp-Jacques Villon 

Spencer A. Samuels and 

Company, Ltd., New York 
Suzanne Feigel, Basel 
Annely Juda Fine Art, London 
to present owner 


"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 59 

(dated 1913), repr. 
Paris, 1949, Salon des Realties Nou- 
velles, no. 285 


io2 Study for Organization of Graphic 
Motifs (Etude pour Localisations 
de mobiles graphiqnes). 1911-11 

Charcoal on paper, 13 x iz l A" 

(33 X3icm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Courtesy Galerie Denise Rene, Paris 

the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Karl Flinker 
to present owner 

103 Study for Organization of Graphic 
Motifs (Etude pour Localisations 
de mobiles graphiqnes). 1911-12 

Charcoal on paper, 12% x 11%" 
(32 x 30 cm.) 


Courtesy Galerie Denise Rene, Paris 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Karl Flinker 
to present owner 


104 Study for Organization of Graphic 
Motifs (Etude pour Localisations 
de mobiles graphiques). 1912-13 

Pastel on paper, 13V2 x 13V8" 
(34.3x33.3 cm.) 
Signed I of c "Kupka" 
Private Collection 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


105 Organization of Graphic Motifs I 
(Localisations de mobiles graphi- 
quesl). 19 1 2- 1 3 

Oil on canvas, 78% x j6 b A" 
(200 x 194 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka;" inscribed 11 
"localisations de mobiles 

Vachtova, no. 195 

Collection Royal S. Marks Gallery, 
New York 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Richard L. Feigen, Chicago 
to present owner, 1958 


Paris, 1913, Salon d'Automne, 
no. 1149 

"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 33 
*Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 26, pi. X 
Cleveland, i960, no. 29, repr. 
"New York, 1961, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 8 
""New York, 1964, Royal S. Marks, 

(not on checklist) 

The phrase "localisations de mobiles graphiques" is developed in two stages in 
Kupka's writings. The terms "mobile" and "mobile graphique" occur for the first 
time in his 1910-11 manuscript. They are defined as the outer expression of the 
artist's inner motivations (or motives) and identified as "motifs-mobiles" (motive- 
motifs) as opposed to "motifs-sujets" (subject-motifs) or the motif derived from a 
subject in the perceived world. For Kupka, there is no necessity to look for subject 
matter in perceived objects. The artist's slightest gesture, his style or approach to 
painting express an intelligence, a mentality, a vision and this is sufficient. 1 

In the same text, Kupka defines the phrase "localisations des motifs-mobiles 
graphiques," a concept which he will develop more extensively in the years these 
pictures were done. In his 1912-13 manuscript, Kupka devotes three to four hand- 
written pages to this concept which we will attempt to summarize here: 

In our inner visions, fragments of images float before our eyes. In order to cap- 
ture these fragments, we unconsciously trace lines between them and by thus setting 
up a network of relationships, we arrive at a coherent whole. These lines drawn to 
organize our visions are like "stereoscopic bridges" between fragments in space. . . . 
The lines of this network define points in space and directions. They provide the 
scaffolding of the image; they capture the rhythmic relationships between impres- 

1 Manuscript I, pp. 30-31. 



106 Organization of Graphic Motifs II 
(Localisations de mobiles graphi- 
quesll). 19 1 2-1 3 

Oil on canvas, 78% x 78%" 
(zoo x 200 cm.) 

Signed II "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 196 

Private Collection 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


Paris, 1 91 3, Salon d'Aittomne, 

no. 1150 

Houston, 1965, no. 52 

sions. And this is the real subject of the painter: the lyrical or tragic schema of na- 
ture poeticized or dramatized. Details, forms, figures, objects may subsequently be 
added to articulate the image further. 2 

Early sketches for these two paintings 3 show varied approaches to the problem 
of pure spatial relationships. Probably the earliest show what appears to be a road 
between houses in which all but the vertical lines are drawn off into a central van- 
ishing point. Other drawings contain what look like railroad tracks or telegraph 
wires. Still others show small clusters of enigmatic figures scattered at random, and 
arbitrarily connected by scores of lines. These are the flattest of all the drawings. 

However, in keeping with Kupka's notion of "stereoscopic bridges," the final 
paintings retain a thrust into depth, magnified once again to vertiginous cosmic 
proportions. After the flat synthesis of contained motion and color of the Fugue, 
Kupka turned to a more overtly dynamic and dramatic imagery. A third painting, 
Non-Descriptive Space, of 1913-14 4 was originally extremely close to Organization 
of Graphic Motifs 11. Subsequently, Kupka reworked the painting, leaving only the 
motifs around the outer edge. 

2 Manuscript II, pp. Z8-30 bis. 

3 In MOMA Study Collection. 

4 Collection Louis Carre, Paris. See 
study, cat. no. 107. The painting may 
be seen in fig. ir, p. 313, second paint- 
ing from the right. 



-io7 Study for Non-Descriptive Space 
(Etude pour Espace non descrip- 
tif). 19x3-14 

Colored crayons on paper, 5% x 5%" 
(14.5 x i4Cfn.) 
Signed 11 "Kupka" 
Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


108 Solo of a Brown Line (he Solo d'un 
trait bran). 19 12- 13 

Oil on canvas, 27V2 x 45 1 4" 
(70 x 115 cm.) 

Inscribed, dated and signed 11 "Le 
solo//d'un trait brun//i9i2-i3 

Vachtova, no. 232, color pi. XIX 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


Paris, 1913, Salon des hidependants, 

no. 1721 

"Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 16 (dated 

Paris, 1926, Grand Palais, no. 1379 
"Paris, r936, Jeu de Paume, no. 64 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 151 
Paris, 1949, Maeght, repr. p. 194 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 28, pi. IX 
:; 'Pisek— CeskeBudejovice, r96i, 

no. 10, repr. 
Hluboke— Brno, 1966, no. 231 
London, 1967, no. 77 
Brussels— Rotterdam, 1967, no. 77 
^Prague, 1968, no. 56, repr. 
Turin, 1971, p. 273, repr. 
Stockholm— Goteborg, 1973, no. 94 

i Manuscript I, p. 41. 
2. Manuscript IV, p. 58. 

3 Ibid., p. 79. 

4 See cat. nos. 105 and 109. 

Kupka's 1910-11 notebook contains a number of short entries concerning "point," 
"line," "spot," "plane," "space," "light," themes which he would develop in his 
treatise on the function of painting. On the page devoted to "line," he drew a num- 
ber of whiplash curves, each representing the characteristic style of a period: "eigh- 
teenth century," "Gothic," "Art Nouveau," etc., obviously inspired by his early 
training in the function of ornamental motifs. On the same page he noted that the 
autonomous line is the "happiest" line because it serves no master (such as shad- 
ing, form, color, plane). It generates its own significance through "associations" 
with forms, volumes, tactility, muscular activity. 1 

By 1912.-13, the time of this painting, Kupka's thinking had developed further. 
In his manuscript of this period he differentiates between line (la ligne) and stroke 
(le trait), saying that whereas a line divides space, a stroke acts as an autonomous 
graphic entity. It is an ideogram: the true expression of an idea. It has nothing to do 
with geometry, it is not the shortest distance between two points. It possesses its 
own substance and presence. In support of his theory, Kupka referred to Rem- 
brandt's etchings. 2 

This emphasis on the expressive vitality of a line is reminiscent of van de Velde 
and other exponents of Art Nouveau. Kupka's early exposure to this idiom made a 
profound impression on his art and his thinking, traces of which are still seen here 
in the dynamic trajectory of a line through space. As we have seen elsewhere, Kupka 
consistently sought to disengage formal motifs from descriptive tasks and make 
them function according to their own substance. A drawing in The Museum of 
Modern Art Study Collection bears the inscription: "Solo of a brown sinuous [line], 
orchestration of spots placed with no motivation, solely to send off and receive the 

The "spots" or triangular planes on either side of the present work resemble a 
kaleidoscopic image, even though they are based on the familiar panes of stained 
glass seen frequently elsewhere. Kupka knew about kaleidoscopes by this time and 
referred to them in the same manuscript as a mirror technique for decomposing 
forms and reconstituting them into a new homogenous ensemble. 3 These kaleido- 
scopic shifting forms are seen in other works of the period. 1 


109 Study. 1912-13 

Pastel on paper, 11% x 13V2" 
(29.9 x 34.3 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i3-i4" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Alexander 


the artist 

to present owner, 1950's 

no Study. 1912-13 

Colored crayons and colored pencils 
on paper, 5V& x 10%" (13 x 26.5 cm.) 

Stamped 11 "Kupka" 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 



in Study for Lines, Planes, Spaces 
(Etude pour Traits, plans, es- 
paces). 19 1 3 

Gouache on paper, 11% x 9" 
(29.9 x 22.9 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection William Zierler 


the artist 

Estate of the artist 

Karl Flinker 

Spencer A. Samuels and Co., Ltd., 

New York 

to present owner 

112 Untitled. 19 13 

Color etching, 6Vb x i3 3 4" 
(15.5 x 35 cm.) 

Signed and dated in plate lr "Kupka" 


Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

During this period, Kupka did a number of etchings on the theme of acrobats or 
fairs. Although this etching is on the borderline between figuration and abstrac- 
tion, it captures the spirit of a circus; one is reminded for example of Toulouse- 
Lautrec's circus series, particularly the painting An cirque Fernando of 1888 (Art 
Institute of Chicago), and of Kupka's own lithograph of 1899, The Fools, (fig. 3, 
p. 307). Yet despite the barely discernible silhouettes of figures, the dynamic sweep 
of circular rhythms, strong directional lines and dramatic composition endow the 
subject with a cosmic dimension. 


ii3 Untitled. 19 13 

Color etching, 6 X A x 9V2" 
(16 x 24 cm.) 

Signed in plate 11 "Kupka" 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

1 One might look for their source in 
Kupka's early illustrations for 
L'Hotnme et la terre (see fig. 4, p. 308 

The cosmic dimension seen emerging in the preceding etching is here fully de- 
veloped. At least two motifs appear in this work which, although conceived as 
early as 1912, will only be fully elaborated after World War I. The large circular 
configuration on the left anticipates the series Around a Point (cat. nos. 152-160) 
for which preliminary watercolors were probably executed at around this time. 
However the loose floral arrangement in the sketches is translated here into a more 
geometric configuration because of both the altered context and the constraints of 
the etching technique. The motifs on the right were first formulated in the two 
paintings Organization of Graphic Motifs of 191 2-1 3. l Again they appear in the 
etching in the tighter, stricter form of Kupka's later work. 


H4 Evidence (Evidence). 1914-1919? 

Watercolor on paper, 10% x 8!4" 
(27 x 21 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection Royal S. Marks Gallery, 
New York 


the artist 

Estate of the artist 

Karl Flinker 

Galerie Denise Rene, Paris 

to present owner 

Usually dated 19 14, the type of organic forms depicted here did not appear in 
Kupka's work until after 19 19. It is conceivable that this might be an early variation 
on the theme Tale of Pistils and Stamens. 


ii5 Study for The Colored One (Etude 
pour La Coloree). 1911-19? 

Pastel on paper, 10 x 9" 
(25.4 x 22.9 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

Kupka, Black Accent, c. 1919, oil, Private 


1 1 6 The Colored One (La Coloree). 

Oil on canvas, 25% x zt.Va" 
(65 x 54 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York, 
Gift of Mrs. Andrew P. Fuller, 1966 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

Richard L. Feigen, Inc., New York, 


Mr. and Mrs. Andrew P. Fuller, 

December 1961 

to present owner, gift 


New York, 1966, SRGM 

New York, May-June 1967, SRGM 

New York, June-October 1967, 


*New York, 1968, Spencer A. 

Samuels, no. 40, repr. 
New York, 1969, SRGM 
New York, 1970, SRGM, p. 257, repr. 
New York, 1971, SRGM, p. 257, repr. 
New York, 1973, SRGM 

1 In his 1910-11 manuscript (Manuscript 
I, p. 6), Kupka quoted Delacroix: "For 
the artist, nature is only a dictionary." 

The Colored One is a problematic picture. The subject of a woman lying on her 
back with a sun-disk between her open thighs is unique in Kupka's oeuvre. It seems 
incongruous that Kupka would have reverted to such a sensuous and symbolic 
figurative subject after his bold pure abstractions of 1911-13. Yet the brushwork 
and palette relate it unmistakably to the period 1919. 

In 1919, after the war, when Kupka began painting seriously again, he returned 
once more to nature for his vocabulary and syntax. 1 At this time he did a number 
of experimental paintings in which the subject of nature plays a prominent role. 
The first series, Tale of Pistils and Stamens (cat. nos. 1 17-122) shows obvious and 
direct references to nature and biological processes. However this series also con- 
tains an explicit symbolic dimension which will subsequently be eliminated in favor 
of more purely formal concerns (see discussion, cat. no. 120). 

Kupka produced a number of preliminary paintings before arriving at the defini- 
tive formulation of this theme. One of the pictures shows brightly colored human 
silhouettes massed together in a rhythmic organic image (fig., p. 20S). This motif 
will emerge as the core of two of the Pistils paintings, where it will illustrate the 
erotic dimension of Kupka's symbolism. The Colored One can be related to this 
cycle; it appears as a first attempt to illustrate Kupka's allegory of floral fecundation. 


ii7 Study for Tale of Pistils and 
Stamens (Etude pour Conte de 
pistils et d'et amines). 1919? 

Light gray chalk or charcoal on 
paper, 17 x 17W (43 x 44 cm.) 

Stamped lr "Kupka" 

Courtesy Galerie Denise Rene, Paris 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Karl Flinker 
to present owner 

1 1 8 Study for Tale of Pistils and 
Stamens (Etude pour Conte de 
pistils et d'etamines). 19 19 

Watercolor on paper, 10% x yVs" 
(27.5 x 24 cm.) 
Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York 

the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

Karl Flinker 

to present owner, 1964 


New York, June-October 1967, 


:: 'New York, 1968, Spencer A. 

Samuels, no. 41 

New York, July-September 1969, 

SRGM, p. 50, repr. color 

New York, December 1969-January 

1970, SRGM 

New York, 1970, p. 256, repr. 

New York, 1971, SRGM, p. 256, repr. 


1 19 Study for Tale of Pistils and 
Stamens (Etude pour Conte de 
pistils et d'etamines). 1919 

Watercolor on paper, 11% x 10%" 
(31.5 x 2.7 cm.) 

Signed II "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

izo Tale of Pistils and Stamens I 

(Conte de pistils et d'etamines I). 

Oil on canvas, 33V2 x 28%" 
(85 x73 cm.) 

Signed and dated Ir "Kupka//^3" 

Fedit, no. 72, repr. 

Vachtova, no. 206, repr. p. 303 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 4181-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


Paris, 1919, Salon d'Automne, no. 

"Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 24 (dated 

"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 52 (dated 

Tale of Pistils and Stamens is probably Kupka's first significant post-war series. 
As mentioned elsewhere, it shows a renewed interest in biological processes. This 
interest had been formulated in Kupka's mind by 191 2-1 3. In the manuscript for 
his book he wrote: "In broad daylight, every plant raises its flowers to the heights. 
The stamens, with their joyous phallic forms fecundate the gracious pistils. It is 
a real pollen festival in the gynoecium bathed in sunlight, and surrounded by the 
petals which unfold to protect the event of conception." 1 This baroque "tale" is 
as imaginative an interpretation of biological facts as are the artist's paintings on 
the same theme. 

i Manuscript IV, pp. 80-81. 

2 It is possible that the fourth work in 
this group is a gouache, visible in the 
installation photograph (fig. 11, p. 
313). However, this cannot be taken 
for granted as the gouache may be one 
of the unidentified "studies" also 
shown in the exhibition (la Boetie, cat. 
nos. 70-101: "Etudes 1919-24"). 

Three paintings from this cycle are known today, although four were exhibited 
at la Boetie in 192.4, all dated 1919-20, which seem to be the proper dates. 2 The 
present version appears to be the earliest one. Cat. no. 121, like cat. no. 122, shows 
a cluster of anthropomorphic forms in the center, and thereby illustrates Kupka's 
"tale" more literally. 

In addition to the biological inspiration, the vigorous thrust in depth, vertiginous 
motion and vivid colors which provoke associations with nature, endow these 
paintings with a true cosmic sense. 


Tale of Pistils and Stamens (Conte 
de pistils et d'etamines). 1919-20 

Oil on canvas, 43% x ?>6Va" 
(110x92 cm.) 

Dated and signed lr "i92o//Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 205, repr. pp. 161-162 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

intervening history unknown 

on deposit at Ministry of Foreign 


to present owner, 1965 


*Paris, 1924, la Boetie, one of nos. 

*Prague, 1946, Manes (hors 

catalogue; installation photograph) 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 35 
"'Usti nad Orlici, 1965 
:: "Prague, 1965, no. 6 
London, 1967, no. 79, repr. 
Brussels-Rotterdam, 1967, no. 79 
Trague, 1968, no. 66, repr. 
''Belgrade, 1969, no. 11, repr. 



i zz Tale of Pistils and Stamens II or 
HI (Conte de pistils et d'etamines 
II on III). 1919-zo 

Oil on canvas, 31V2 x 35V2" 
(80x90 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection Wilhelm Hack, Cologne 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


"'Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 25, 2.6 or 

27 (dated 1919-20, installation 

"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 25 

(installation photograph) 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 53 (dated 

1923, installation photograph) 
Cologne, Kolnischer Kunstverein, 
November 12-December 20, 1964, 
Kunst des 20. Jahrhimderts in Kolner 
Privatbesitz, no. 55, repr. 
Frankfurt, Kunstverein, June 25- 
August7, 1966, Vorn lmpressionismus 
zum Bauhaus: Meistenverke aus 
deutscbem Privatbesitz. Traveled to 
Hamburg, Kunstverein, August 27- 
October 16, 1966, no. 38, repr. 
Dusseldorf, Kunstverein fur die 
Rheinlande und Westfalen, April 23- 
June 29, 1969, Sammlung Wilhelm 
Hack, no. 96, repr. 

Although listed by Kupka in his 1946 retrospective as the second painting in this 
cycle, it was perhaps so designated for the needs of the exhibition, the catalogue 
for which contained only two works of this title. The Narodnf Galerie painting 
(cat. no. 121), which was shown hors catalogue in 1946, seems stylistically to be- 
long between this painting and cat. no. 120. It has essentially the same composition 
and loosely painted forms as Pistils I, and contains the same anthropomorphic 
central motif as the present painting, which we would tend to identify as Pistils III. 
The composition of this painting is quite different from the other two. It is 
extremely close to a painting of 1920-21, Crystal, from the Gothic Contrasts series 
which Kupka developed immediately after this cycle, and in which he used some 
of the same burgeoning motifs, natural colors, and even the central configuration 
of writhing bodies within the framework of a stained glass window. Pistils III 
also shows a flatter brushstroke than that found in the two earlier versions, tauter 
forms, more controlled rhythms and a more nuanced chromatic progression, once 
more relating it to slightly later works. 


2I 7 

123 Gothic Contrasts (Contrastes 
gothiques). c. 1920 

Oil on canvas, 26 x 28" (66 x 71 cm.) 
Signed 11 "Kupka" 
Collection Camille Renault 


the artist 

to present owner 

1 The latter painting was dated 19Z5 by 
Kupka. However, on stylistic grounds, 
the author would prefer to date it 
192.1-zz, like the Providence painting. 

It is tempting to compare this painting with Delaunay's St. Severin series of 1909-10 
and thereby situate it earlier in Kupka's oeuvre. One might also be tempted to 
consider it an early study of a Gothic interior and attribute it to the artist's early 
figurative period. Yet the facture indicates a later dating. One can only conclude 
that this was one of Kupka's experimental post-war paintings in which he returned 
briefly to figurative themes in order to work out problems of color and form. In 
fact the subject of Gothic vaulting and windows led Kupka to produce a unique 
figurative cycle on which he worked between c. 1920-25. He elaborated the theme 
so as to accentuate the optical illusions of perspective as seen through the complex 
network of vaulted arcades in a church. Sometimes he borrowed the dynamic 
motion and biological forms and palette from the immediately preceding Pistils 
cycle (see cat. nos. 120-122). Eventually, the connected arabesques of pointed arches 
would lead him to the undulating rhythms of the paintings Moving Blues of 1923- 
24 (see cat. nos. 148-150). 

Three other paintings of this cycle are known: Crystal, c. 1920-21 (Collection 
Gallien); Gothic Contrast, c. 1921-22 (Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of 
Design, Providence); Gothic Contrasts, c. 1925 (MNAM, Paris). 1 



124 Essay, Vigor (Essai, robustesse). 

Oil on canvas, 59% x 39%" 
(150 x 100 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i92o" 

Vachtova, no. 215, repr. p. 149 

Collection Margit Chanin, Ltd. 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner 


''Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 44 
a 'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 38 
"'Paris, 1964, Louis Carre, no. 10 

1 See cat. no. 5 for example. Also, 
Window on the Beach, c. 1901, 
MOMA, The Joan and Lester Avnet 
Collection. The rocks appeared in the 
first version of Ballad-Joys (cat. no. 8; 
see discussion). See also Vachtova, 

p. 148. 

2 AhoMotif hindou or Degrades rouges, 
\<)io {Hindu Motif or Red Grada- 
tions), MNAM, Paris. 

3 Fedit, cat. no. 69, p. 86. 

In 1920, Kupka spent the summer in Brittany, as he had done many times before, 
starting at least as early as 1900. The curious rock formations found on the 
Brittany coast are seen in much of his work, particularly between 1900 and 1904. : 
The dramatic monolithic shapes in the present painting echo this familiar motif. 

The upward thrust of rounded vertical forms crowned by an agitated mass of 
clouds reveals one source of Kupka's inspiration for the Hindu Motifs cycle (cat. 
nos. 125, 128, 137). 2 However, while the present image derives from the perceived 
world, in the ensuing years the motifs will be translated into a progressively more 
imaginary landscape. 

The title implies that this work may be a first attempt to formulate a theme. 
In fact, a painting, Facture robuste (Vigorous Brusbwork) of 1920 (MNAM, Paris) 
contains the same bold forms and colors and is visibly based on the same pictorial 
ideas. Since it shows definite similarities with the Pistils series, appearing more 
advanced than the first, and less than the last version shown here, it seems safe 
to maintain the date of 1920 for these two paintings. 

Fedit relates Vigorous Brusbwork to the Creation series 3 and says it shows an 
attempt to depict the birth of the world from its original chaos. 


125 Blue Scaffolding (Cbarpente 
bleue). 1919 

Oil on canvas, 29V2 x 33V2" 
(75 x85 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 217, repr. p. 150, 
color pi. XIII 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


Paris, 1919, Salon d'Automne, no. 

1036 (as Armature bleue) 

'Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 39 (dated 

*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 28 
:: 'Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 48 (dated 


*Usti nad Orlicf, 1965, no. 6 
'"Cologne, 1967, no. 72, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 72, repr.; 

Vienna, 1967, no. 29; Amsterdam, 

no. 50, repr.; Prague, 1969, no. 68, 

"Belgrade, 1969, no. 13, repr. 

iz6 Untitled. 1919 

Gouache on paper, 8% x 6" 
(22.3 x 15.2 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Gribin 


the artist 

Robert Elkon Gallery, New York 

to present owner 

127 Chromatic Vibrations (Vibrations 
chromatiques). 1919-20 

Gouache on paper, yVs x 10" 
(24.5 x 25.2 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Collection Peter Gimpel 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Karl Flinker 
to present owner 


iz8 Intensifications (Intensifications). 

Oil on canvas, 31x31" 

(78.7.x 78.7 cm.) 

Signed lr"Kupka" 

Private Collection, New York 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

Rose Fried Gallery, New York, 

June 1958 

to present owner, December 1958 


;: 'Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 38 (dated 

The Hindu Motif or Scaffolding series evolved from a number of themes which 
Kupka was exploring c. 1919-20. Obviously deriving initially from the pre-war 
paintings Creation and Cosmic Spring (cat. nos. 80, 82), Kupka's reworking of 
these early paintings in 1919-21 may have acted as a catalyst in the elaboration of 
this series. Formal innovations developed in the diverse cycles of Tale of Pistils and 
Stamens (cat. nos. 1 17-122), Essay, Vigor and Vigorous Brushivork (see cat. no. 
124), Gothic Contrasts (cat. no. 123) and studies of marine life (cat. no. 126) con- 
tributed to its formulation. It should be noted that all of these cycles except the 
Gothic Contrasts series are interpretations of biological growth and vitality. The 
Gothic Contrasts series contributes the dimension of architecture applied to organic 

The Hindu Motif or Scaffolding cycle includes four paintings and a number of 
gouaches and watercolors. The Narodni Galerie, Prague, version, Blue Scaffolding 
(cat. no. 125) is probably the earliest, dating from 1919. The left side contains 
motifs which are extremely close to those found in Cosmic Spring II (cat. no. 82). 
Hindu Motif or Red Gradations is probably the second version (MNAM, Paris; 
see Fedit, cat. no. 73, p. 91). Dated 1919 by Fedit, its close similarity to Essay, Vigor 
argues for a 1920 dating. 

Intensifications is probably the third in the series. Dated 1921 by Kupka for his 
1924 exhibition at la Boetie, the more evenly regulated progression of growth, and 
the more clear cut stylized forms confirm this later dating. Finally Green and Blue 
(cat. no. 137) is the last in the series, by which time the theme has been transformed 
into a visionary architecture. 

A photograph found among Kupka's possessions shows either a study or an 
early version of Intensifications which would subsequently have been repainted 
(fig.). The initial inspiration from natural floral growth is clearly visible. The 
vertical planes framing the composition, seen in this version and not in the others, 
make it closer in feeling to Gothic Contrasts (cat. no. 123). 

Kupka, early version of Intensifications. 



129 Flaccid Forms (Formes flasques). 

Oil on canvas, 25% x 25%" 
(65.5x65.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Joseph H. Hazen 


the artist 

Richard L. Feigen, Inc., New York 

Royal S. Marks, New York 

to present owner 


"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 56 (dated 

'"New York, 1961, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 6 
,: "New York, 1964, Royal S. Marks, 

entry C 
Cambridge, 1966; Los Angeles, 1967; 
Berkeley, 1967; Houston, 1967; 
Honolulu, 1967 

A list of paintings compiled by Eugenie Kupka in 1956 includes the entry: "Formes 
flasques (motif indou) [sic] 1925." Kupka dated the painting 1925 in his 1946 
Prague catalogue. However due to its inspiration, facture, palette and attribution 
as a Hindu Motif, one is inclined to think it was started c. 1921, and there is nothing 
that points to it being reworked after 1923. 

The dominant motifs of Flaccid Forms are the stylized anvil-shaped clouds seen 
as early as 1911-20 in Cosmic Spring II (cat. no. 82), reproduced in more stylized 
form in Kupka's black and white gouache on the same theme (cat. no. 130). 
Clearly, in composition and palette, this is a variation on the Cosmic Spring theme. 
Another painting, Debris of 1920 (Private Collection, Switzerland), shows the same 
loose composition, brilliant palette and nebulous forms. 

The revisions up to 1923 may include a reinforcing of the central nimbus. This 
nimbus occurs in paintings of the 1919-23 period of a cycle called The Form of 
Yellow (see Vachtova, p. 195, for example). The configuration has an interesting 
history. It is derived from Kupka's 1917-18 illustrations for The Song of Roland. 
One of these academic illustrations done during the war shows the same haloed 
light and nebulous forms as found in this painting (fig. 9, p. 312). It also contains 
similar superpositions of foreground and background motifs. 


130 Cosmic Spring (Printemps cos- 
mique). 1921 

Gouache on paper, 15% x 12V6" 
(40 x 30.8 cm.) 

Signed r of c "Kupka" 

Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


131 Study after The Language of 
Verticals. 1921 

Gouache on paper, 15% x xy'/ii' 
(39 x34 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 

1 Cosmic Spring, started 1911, see cat. 
no. 82.; Study for The Language of 
Verticals, c. 1911, Collection Louis 
Carre, Paris; see also cat. no. 67. 

2 Arnould-Gremilly, 1922, p. 15. This 
study is not identical to the final 

3 La Creation dans les arts plastiques, 
p. 104. 

4 See window curtains in fig., p. 6. 

In 1920-21, Kupka prepared the woodcut illustrations for two books which 
appeared in 1922 and 1923 respectively: Arnould-Gremilly's monograph and the 
artist's own treatise on painting. Most of the illustrations were drawn from earlier 
existing works. The two exhibited here were inspired by paintings of the same 
title which were conceived prior to World War I. 1 

The black and white rendering of Cosmic Spring served as the frontispiece for 
Kupka's book, La Creation dans les arts plastiques. Study after The Language of 
Verticals was used as an illustration for the monograph. 2 A long horizontal version 
of the same motif is also found in Kupka's book. 3 

The inspiration for the tightly pleated vertical motifs which Kupka developed 
at an early date has sometimes been attributed to the mottled patterns of light 
through the embroidered window curtains at Puteaux. 4 

Many of the black and white motifs Kupka developed in 1921 would be taken 
up again in his 1926 album of woodcuts (cat. no. 165). 

3 2. Unsteady Planes (Plans instables). 

Oil on paperboard, 18V2 x 30" 
(43 x76 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka;" inscribed lr 
"plans instables" 

Courtesy Galerie Denise Rene, 
New York 


the artist 

Andree Martinel-Kupka 

Karl Flinker-Daniel Gervis, Paris 

to present owner 


"'Paris, 1921, Povolozky, no. 16 
*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 34 

(as Plans en mouvement) 
:i Taris, 1964, Karl Flinker, no. 101 
^Cologne, 1967, no. 100, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 100, repr.; 

Vienna, 1967, no. 32; Amsterdam, 

1968, no. 55, repr.; Prague, 1968, 

no. 72, repr. 
Krefeld, 1969 (cat. not located) 

In 1920-21, Kupka did a large series of works exclusively in black and white. 
These were exhibited at the Galerie Povolozky in 1921. At the same time he was 
preparing woodcut illustrations for two books (cat. nos. 130, 131). It is hard to say 
whether the work for the illustrations inspired the black and white paintings or 
whether they evolved independently from other sources. Kupka's friendship with 
the master wood-block printer and painter A. P. Gallien, who had been painting 
black and white abstract subjects on canvas since 1920, should be mentioned in 
this context. It is plausible that Gallien's example was one factor in Kupka's 
decision to work in black and white. 

Unsteady Planes is an excellent example of Kupka's autonomous black and white 
style. Possibly inspired in its organic forms by a detail of a cosmic composition, 
and in its formal repetition by the various studies of "pleated" vertical planes, the 
cadenced progression of forms through space echoes the artist's earlier investiga- 
tions of consecutive motion (cat. nos. 9, 46-51). 


133 The Fair or The Quadrille (La 
Voire ou La Contredanse). 

Oil on canvas, zS 3 A x 93%" 
(73 x 238 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 222, repr. p. 176 

Private Collection 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner, 1975 


*Paris, 1921, Povolozky, no. 28 (as 

La Contredanse) 
"Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 30 (as 

La Contredanse, dated 1920-21) 
"'New York, 1951, Louis Carre, no. 7, 

"'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 39 (dated 

*Paris, 1964, Louis Carre, no. 12 

(dated 1921) 

1 See The Fools, fig. 3, p. 307. 
1 See cat. nos. 112, 113. 

3 Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 

4 MNAM, Paris; Fedit, cat. no. 95, 

p. 108; Fedit relates this painting to 
stroboscopic images. 

5 Published in La Vie des lettres, October 
1911, pp. 670-686. Reprinted in book 
form 1921 (see bibliography). Present 
quote, p. 680. 

Since it was purchased by Louis Carre in 1951, this painting has been exhibited 
and reproduced under the title La Loire. Because the theme of a fair or circus was 
one which Kupka treated as early as 1899 1 and returned to intermittently through- 
out his career, 2 this title seems logical and appropriate, even though it is difficult 
to determine its source. 

The installation photograph of Kupka's 1924 la Boetie retrospective shows that 
this painting was exhibited there. However the title La Loire is not included in the 
catalogue, and the only title which seems to correspond to this painting is La 
Contredanse, dated 1920-21. The title La Contredanse appears in the Povolozky 
catalogue of 1921, the year in which Kupka finished the painting. 

There are several reasons for believing that this canvas was originally called 
La Contredanse {The Quadrille). The first is the imagery itself. A quadrille is a 
French country dance, like a square dance, in which four couples face and bow off 
from one another. Although the present painting is essentially abstract, it is ob- 
viously about measured rhythms and consecutive motion, and in certain areas one 
can even decipher human silhouettes shuffling and bowing in evenly cadenced 
rhythms. These silhouettes are related to Kupka's paintings of 1919-20, The 
Colored One (cat. no. 116) and Black Accent (fig., p. 208). 

The decomposition of movement across a horizontal field may be loosely com- 
pared to that in Unsteady Planes (cat. no. 132), also shown at Povolozky in 1921. 
Yet the shattered and spliced effect of the motion goes back to Kupka's early 
drawing, The Horsemen (cat. no. 9), inspired by the Praxinoscope. There seems 
no doubt that Kupka was involved with the representation of movement in time 
and space during this period. In fact, one painting dated 1920, L'Heure (The 
Hour)} and a second dated 1925, Le Temps passe or LTnstant (Passing Time or 
The Moment) 4 which was probably painted closer to 1921, confirm this preoccupa- 
tion with stroboscopic images unfolding in time. 

At the opening of Kupka's 1921 exhibition, Arnould-Gremilly gave a lecture 
about the artist's work in which he seems to refer precisely to this painting: "In 
order to achieve a florid counterpoint, a fugue, or a free style, mustn't one turn 
to cinematographic projection? The latter alone can endow the simultaneously 
presented two dimensions of the canvas with a third more musical dimension, 
progression in duration, measured rhythm, cadenced movement, repetition in 
time." 5 


i 3 1 

134 Triangular Composition (Com- 
position triangulaire). 1920-21 

Oil on canvas, 26 x 27V6" 
(66 x 70 cm.) 

Signed lr"Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

Rose Fried Gallery, New York 

to present owner 

1 MNAM, Paris; Fedit, cat. no. 82, p. 98. 
The painting is inscribed 1912. How- 
ever Fedit finds this stylistically 
improbable and refers to Kupka's 195 1 
inventory in which he dated it 1919. 

2 See Fedit, cat. no. 75, p. 94 for photo- 
graph of initial version. 

This work may be related to two other known paintings of c. 1920-22: Compli- 
ment 1 and En degrades (Gradations, fig.; present whereabouts unknown). Com- 
pliment is probably the earliest of the three and may be dated c. 1919-20. In 
Compliment, the dynamic organic rhythms on the left are related to Tale of 
Pistils and Stamens 11 or 111 (cat. no. 122), whereas the "bowing," shuffling planes 
on the right, although completely abstract, evoke not only the rhythms of the 
Women Picking Flowers series (cat. nos. 46-51) but relate to The Quadrille (cat. no. 
133). The burgeoning motifs on the left are also close in treatment to those in other 
1920 paintings such as Essay, Vigor (cat. no. 124). 

Triangular Composition like The Quadrille (cat. no. 133) retains the same bright 
palette as Compliment, and a somewhat similar grouping of motifs. However here 
the rippling forms and organic rhythms are translated into more distinctly and 
evenly defined and graded planes. These planes, which still show loose vibrant 
brushwork, are close to those in the first version of Animated Lines (cat. no. 135) 2 
which was exhibited in 1920 in its first state. 

Gradations, last of the three, shows the even shading and flatter brushwork 
which Kupka developed between 1920 and 1922. This painting was exhibited at 
la Boetie as Degrades, dated 1920-22 (la Boetie, cat. no. 37). 

The curved forms in all three of these paintings anticipate the final stricter 
rendering of the same theme: Planes by Curves of 1926-30 (cat. nos. 161, 162). 

Kupka, Gradations, 1910-22, oil, present 
whereabouts unknown. 


135 Animated Lines (Lignes animees). 
1920-21; reworked between 

Oil on canvas, 76x78%" 
(193 x 200 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka 21 ;" 
11 "lignes//animees" 

Fedit, no. 75, repr. 

Vachtova, no. 212 (dated 1919-34), 
pi. XV 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 3565-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, 1957 


Paris, 1920, Salon d'Automne, 

no. 1249 (first state) 

*Paris, 1924, la Boetie (dated 1920-21) 

"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 37 

"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 140 (dated 

Paris, 1948, Salon des Realties 
Noiwelles (hors catalogue) 
*Paris, 1953, Salon des Realties 

Noiwelles (hors catalogue) 
Paris, 1954, Salon des Realties 
Noiwelles, no. 345 
"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 41, pi. XV 
Rennes, 1961 

Vienna, 1962, no. in (asBeseelt 
Linien), repr. (on its side) 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 26, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 26, repr.; 

Vienna, 1967, no. 31, repr.; 

Amsterdam, 1968, no. 52, repr.; 

Prague, 1968, no. 70, repr. 

Obviously based on the idea of cosmic rotation, this painting presents analogies 
with three of Kupka's pictorial themes: Organization of Graphic Motifs (cat. nos. 
102-106), Tale of Pistils and Stamens (cat. nos. 117-122) and Around a Point 
(cat. nos. 152-160). In its original state, the present painting showed a more organic 
center, closer to the Pistils and Stamens series, and the more fluid forms character- 
istic of Kupka's 1920 work. Sometime between 1924 and 1933, the canvas was 
reworked and brought to its present state. 1 

In 1910-11, Kupka wrote: "A point which acts as a nucleus. Concentration of 
rays. It is determined by the centrifugal directions of lines or planes. Converging 
rays, converging lines, which then reach outward to infinity." 2 

1 See discussion and photograph of 
original state in Fedit. 

2 Manuscript I, p. 40. 



136 Lines, Planes, Depths (Traits, 
plans, profondetirs). 1920-22 

Oil on canvas, 31V2 x 28V2" 
(80 x72 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Lucy Delmarle 


the artist 
Felix Del Marie 
to present owner 


'Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 31? 
Lille, 1925, no. 4 
"'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 53 (as 
Dominante bleue) 

1 Collection Joseph H. Hazen, New 
York; NG, Prague; and the present 

2 Seen on a color slide taken by 
Alexander Liberman in preparation for 
The Artist in bis Studio, n.d.; see 

3 See Fedit's discussion, her cat. no. 74, 
p. 91. 

4 Andree Martinel-Kupka (in conversa- 
tion with the author), 1974. 

Five paintings on this theme are known today. The earliest version (MNAM, Paris; 
Fedit, cat. no. 74, pp. 92-93), dated 1918-20 by Fedit, is the most heavily painted 
and emphasizes a biological inspiration. Indeed, in its brooding blues, purples, 
blacks and grays, it evokes a species of marine flora. A second version (NG, Prague) 
shows the same dense brushwork and tonalities. In contrast to these, three some- 
what later versions (probably 1920-23) 1 in their transparency of color and over- 
lapping forms, no longer call to mind biological life, but an ephemeral shifting of 
light through panes of glass. Kupka had a carved wooden panel in his studio, 
cut out and glazed with a similar stylized floral motif. 2 The backdrop for these 
panes was a rich resonant blue which filtered through the glass in different azure 
tones. Although Kupka's painting once again depicts rotation, even arterial circula- 
tion, 3 and refers distantly to organic life, this openwork panel in Kupka's house 
was obviously one of several sources of inspiration for the final pictorial idea. 

One of the series (which one is unclear) was exhibited at the Salon des hide- 
pendants of 1923. Another, dated 1913-22, was exhibited at la Boetie (la Boetie 
cat. no. 31). Possibly it was this one, since the artist Del Marie helped finance this 
exhibition and Kupka was "very grateful to Del Marie for his help and support." 4 
According to Fedit, the first studies for this theme were done before World War I, 
which explains the la Boetie dating. 



137 Green and Blue (Vert et bleu). 

Oil on canvas, $zVi x 32" 
(133.3 x 81.2 cm.) 

Signed and dated Ir "Kupka//23" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Gribin 


the artist 

Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Liberman, 


Robert Elkon Gallery, New York 

to present owner 


"Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 40 (as 
Charpente bleue 11, dated 1921, 
subsequently reworked and redated) 

*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 29 

"'Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 50 (dated 

:: "New York, 1964, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 2 
New York, Robert Elkon Gallery, 
September 30-November 2, 1972, 
Twentieth Century Masters, no. 20, 
repr. (as Untitled, dated 1923) 

1 See discussion of this series, cat. no. 


2 The la Boetie catalogue lists Charpente 
bleue I and 11, cat. nos. 39 and 40, both 
dated 1921. The painting Blue Scaffold- 
ing (cat. no. 125) is usually identified 

as Blue Scaffolding II, 1920-21. How- 
ever the Prague painting was exhibited 
in the 1919 Salon d'Automne (as 
Armature bleue, no. 1036). This paint- 
ing is obviously the later of the two. 

Green and Blue, also known as Green and Blue Scaffolding (Charpente verte et 
bleue) (see Prague, 1946, cat. no. 50) is the last of the Scaffolding or Hindu Motif 
series. In contrast to the earlier works in this group 1 based on biological forms and 
cosmic landscapes, Green and Blue shows an extension of these pictorial ideas into 
a mystical architecture. This dimension is achieved through the vertical format of 
the painting which accentuates its upward thrust. It is reinforced by the pale 
ephemeral colors, applied in evenly graded planes which no longer connote the 
dynamic surge of organic growth but instead evoke a celestial architecture. Thus, 
the present picture marks a transition between the earlier works in the series and 
the paintings known as Upivard Thrust of 1922-23 (cat. nos. 139-140). 

Green and Blue was exhibited at la Boetie in 1924, as Charpente bleue 11, dated 
1921 (la Boetie cat. no. 40). In the context of the other related pictures, a 1921-23 
date appears preferable. 2 

138 Study for Upward Thrust (Etude 
pour Le ) 'aillissement). 1921-22 

Gouache on paper, 10% x 6V2" 
(27.3 x 16.5 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York, 
Gift of Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris, 
1964 (1705) 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris 
to present owner, gift 


• 1 39 Upward Thrust I (Le Jaillissement 

I). 1922-23 

Oil on canvas, 47/^ x 32?/$," 
(121 x 83 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i923" 

Vachtova, no. 167 (as Outspurt II), 
color pi. XII 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

to present owner, 1953 


"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 2.6 
(as Jaillissement, either present 
work or another of series) 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 118 
''Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 48 

*Pfsek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, 
no. 18. 

Hluboke-Brno, 1966, no. 234 

"Cologne, 1967, no. 74, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 74, repr.; 

Vienna, 1967, no. 34, repr. no. 38; 

Amsterdam, 1968, no. 59, repr. 

black and white, color; Prague, 

1968, no. 69, repr. 
Stockholm, 1973, no. 97 

The theme of the vertical or upward thrust is a recurrent one in Kupka's oeuvre, 
found in paintings both earlier and later than these. Before World War I, they 
were generally inspired by Gothic interiors; after 1919 they expressed biological 

These two paintings, while retaining the vigor of the later works, clearly tend 
toward the architectural. 1 The billowing shapes of the 1919-22 pictures are gradu- 
ally transformed into rectilinear planes. Similarly, color, formerly rich and vibrant, 
shows a new austerity. The effect of bunched columns, and the juxtaposition of 
neutral tones and brilliant hues are reminiscent of the earlier Gothic interiors, 
despite the fact that here both the focus and intent are quite different. 

Kupka did three paintings on this theme, of which the first and third are 
exhibited here. The second is in a New York private collection. 

1 Another painting of 1912-23, called 
La Montee (Rising) (fig.), is related 
to this series and particularly to 
Upward Thrust 1 with which it shares 
the same rounded columnar forms. The 
explanation for this painting, as given 
by Eugenie Kupka, was that it was 
inspired by glasses of fruit preserves 
set in the sun. The original title for the 
painting as it was shown in Prague in 
1946 was The Fermentation of ]am 
(Prague, 1946, cat. no. 74; see Fedit's 
discussion, cat. no. 73, p. 9r). 

Kupka, Rising, 1923, oil, Royal S. Marks 
Gallery, New York. 






140 Upward Thrust HI (Le Jaillisse- 
ment 111). 1922-23 

Oil on canvas, 43% x 35V2" 
(110x90 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 168, repr. p. 125 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Andrew P. 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 
Margit Chanin, Ltd. 
to present owner, 1968 


*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 26 
(as Jaillissetnent, either present 
work or another of series) 

*Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 120 

Turin, 1953, repr. 

Vienna, 1962, no. 112, repr. 

:: 'Paris, 1964, Louis Carre, no. 14 
(dated 1925) 

Lisbon, 1965, no. 72, repr. color 


41 Diagonal Planes I (Plans diago- 
nanxl). c. 1923 

Oil on canvas, 31% x 25%" 
(81 x 65 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 175, repr. p. 138 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 



the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


''Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 62 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 121 

*Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, 
no. 19 

*Ust! nad Orlici, 1965, no. 9 
London, 1967, no. 80 (as 
Horizontal Planes 1) 
Brussels-Rotterdam, 1967, no. 80 
'Prague, 1968, no. 71, repr. 

& P 

The Prague 1968 catalogue (cat. no. 71) indicates that this painting was exhibited 
at la Boetie in 1924, as cat. no. 21: Plans verticanx et diagonaux (reminiscences 
hivernales). In view of the austerity of this picture and a complete absence of the 
motifs which characterize the Winter Reminiscences series (see cat. nos. 143-144), 
this appears implausible. 



Forms and Structures of Colors 
(Formes et structures de couleurs). 

Oil on canvas, 23 x 32" 
(58.4 x 81.2 cm.) 

Signed lr"Kupka" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Gribin 


early history unknown 

Gertrude Stein Gallery, New York 

to present owner 


~Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 50-56 (one 

of these) 
'Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 42 

(as Langage vertical [fond rouge]) 
Riverside, Art Gallery, University of 
California, April 25-May 25, 1971, 
The Cubist Circle, no. 1 2, repr. 

1 Reproduced with this title in Leon 
Plee, "Francois Kupka, Le Peintre des 
'Idees-lumieres'," Les Annales, Novem- 
ber 16, 1924. Private notes by the 
painter Gallien concerning the 1924 
retrospective indicate that the painting 
was called Le Langage des verticales. 
This title does not appear in the la 
Boetie catalogue, and may be Gallien's 
title for the picture, given its 
resemblance to that series. (Notes 
courtesy Gallien family.) 

The groupings of verticals in this painting obviously derive from The Language of 
Verticals theme (see cat. nos. 67 and 131; also Vachtova, cat. no. 157, repr. p. 122). 
Kupka appears to have reverted to this theme in an attempt to redefine his abstract 
vocabulary and emphasize the two-dimensionality of the picture plane. Although 
the format and imagery do not appear again in exactly this form, many of the 
motifs seen here re-emerge in contemporaneous pictures in somewhat more elab- 
orate rendering (see cat. nos. 143, 144). 

Between 1919 and 1923, Kupka painted a series of works on the form and struc- 
ture of colors, illustrating his belief that every color dictates its own ideal form (see 
discussion, cat. no. 168). Although the present painting is very different from those 
in the series, it seems to have borne this title when exhibited in 1924. * 

Kupka did several small abstract paintings on oval stretchers of which the earliest 
date from about this time. Most of them were decorative, in shades of yellow and 
purple, and were conceived for Eugenie Kupka's bedroom. Presumably these in- 
spired him to work in an oval format. Afterwards, in the 1930s and 1940s, and 
again in the 1950s, he experimented only occasionally with small oval formats. 



143 Reminiscence of a Cathedral or 
Winter Reminiscences (Remini- 
scence d'une cathedrale ou Remi- 
niscences hivernales). 1920-23 

Oil on canvas, 59 x 37" 
(149.8 x 94 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka;" inscribed 11 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Joseph 
Randall Shapiro 


the artist 

Richard L. Feigen, Inc., Chicago, 

c. 1957 

to present owner 


'Taris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 18-21 (one 

of these) 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 69 (dated 

Paris, 1950, Salon des Realites Nai- 
veties, no. 300 (as Reminiscence, 
dated 1913-20) 

:; "New York, 1953, Rose Fried, no. 2 
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary 
Art, December 20, 1969-February 1, 
1970, Selections from the Joseph 
Randall Shapiro Collection, no. 39, 

In the 1924 la Boetie exhibition, four paintings were exhibited with the title Plans 
verticanx et diagonaux (reminiscences hivernales) (cat. nos. 18-21). Since many of 
Kupka's titles have changed since that time, it is difficult to identify the correspond- 
ing pictures exactly, except from the one existing installation photograph. It is 
thought however that this painting was among them. 

This work was probably painted between 1920 and 1923. It shows the vertical 
thrust seen in slightly earlier works now congealing into an architecture. The soft 
floating forms on the frontal plane on the left evoke snow flurries, whereas the 
background lozenge motifs call to mind leaded glass. The two titles which 
Kupka used for this painting— referring to winter and the cathedral — are therefore 

The braided motif in the lower left and the fluted pianes at the right edge were 
seen in Forms and Structures of Colors (cat. no. 142). The tentative cloudlike forms 
on the right, subsequently abandoned, and the contradictions of palette— the cen- 
tral panel is executed in mixed muted tones, the sides in primaries and white— sug- 
gest that the painting is an early variation on this theme. 



' 1 144 Vertical and Diagonal Planes; 
Winter Reminiscences (Plans 
verticaux et diagonaux; remini- 
scences hivernales). 1920-23 

Oil on canvas, 70% x 59%" 
(180 x 150 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 173, repr. p. 126, 
color pi. IX 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(O 2068) 


the artist 
Jindrich Waldes 
to present owner 


:: 'Paris, 1921, Povolozky, cat. no. 26 
or 27 

''Paris, 1924, laBoetie, no. 18-21 (one 

of these) 
*Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 116 (dated 

*Prague, 1968, no. 61, repr. 

1 See p. 230, fn. 5 for complete reference. 
Present quote, p. 677. 

The larger format, brighter palette and more distinctly determined forms suggest 
that this painting followed cat. no. 143. The snowflake motifs are again visible, ex- 
tended in vertical chains across the surface of the canvas. And the background is a 
complex pattern of transparent lozenges, evoking panes of glass. Curiously, despite 
the success of Forms and Structures of Colors in establishing a two-dimensional 
continuum, here Kupka reverts to a push-pull relationship between surface plane 
and background, such as that in paintings executed as early as 1909-n (see cat. 
nos. 39, 66, 68). The analogy with Piano Keys-Lake (cat. no. 39) is particularly rel- 
evant in that the lower area of the present painting is distinctly reminiscent of the 
inside of a piano. 

Arnould-Gremilly, in his speech at the Galerie Povolozky in 1921, described the 
myriad experiences evoked by Kupka's paintings, among them the sound of organ 
music: ". . . the chill of abstraction can fall on you like vertical planes, like the pipes 
of a silver organ within the somber sulkiness of a wood-paneled room." 1 Most of 
Arnould-Gremilly's remarks referred to paintings in the exhibition. The Povolozky 
catalogue lists two paintings: Verticales et diagonales; reminiscences (Povolozky 
cat. nos. 26-27). One is tempted to conjecture that the present painting in an earlier 
state, or one close to it, was shown in 1921. 

Small drawings in The Museum of Modern Art Study Collection show the in- 
tricately carved posts of a Gothic choir, creating a complex knobbed vertical 
pattern. A 1913 oil study (fig.) shows a tree (or trees) laden with snow. All of these 
studies obviously contributed to Kupka's elaborate vision in which winter and 
the cathedral are combined. 

Kupka, Study for Winter Reminiscences, 
c. 1913, oil, Collection Mr. and Mrs. 
M. A. Gribin. 



145 Untitled; Decorative Panel (?) 
(Pannean decoratif?). 1921-Z4 

Oil on canvas, 40 x 29 
(101.6x73.6 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Stephen Mazoh & Co., 



the artist 

Felix Del Marie 

Lucy Delmarle 

James St. L. O'Toole 

Gertrude Stein Gallery, New York 

Mr. and Mrs. N. Richard Miller, 

New York 

to present owner 


*Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 42 or 43, 
probably 43 (installation 

*New York, 1968, Spencer A. 
Samuels, no. 36 

San Diego-Oakland-Seattle, 1971, 

no. 47, repr. color 

Untitled is obviously related to the Reminiscence series. The more compact central 
structure, flat integrated forms, controlled palette and stippled impasto technique 
point to a later date than the pictures reviewed thus far. It was exhibited at la Boetie 
in its present state in 1924; one would be tempted to identify it as cat. no. 43: Pan- 
neau decoratif (a deux plans), dated (approximatively) 1921-23. 

Earlier motifs from nature (snow flurries, clouds) are here transformed into flat 
decorative panels. The architectonic central image and the panels themselves evoke 
the modern cathedral or skyscraper rather than the cathedral of medieval times. 
Although one cannot speak of skyscrapers in Paris, the small figured moldings on 
the left imitate the relief panels beginning to appear on modern Parisian facades 
(Auguste Perret's 1913 Theatre des Champs-Elysees, for example). 

Kupka's interest in modern architecture can only be conjectured. Yet in view of 
his unbounded curiosity concerning his environment, his interest in all other pe- 
riods of architecture and his preoccupation with modernity— its science and tech- 
niques—this conjecture does not seem unfounded. By 1923, he was teaching Czech 
scholarship students in Paris; some young architects were among them. Many 
sketches based on building facades are in The Museum of Modern Art Study Col- 
lection. Visibly they are the source of many of his vertical and diagonal plane 
compositions, both earlier and later than this one. For Kupka, the vertical plane 
was fundamentally architectural, either in real or visionary terms. 



146 Lines, Planes, Spaces or Attempt 
at Depth (Traits, plans, espaces or 
Essai pour le profondeur). 

Oil on canvas, 31% x 25%" 
(80.5 x 65 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 


*Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 137 (as 
Pokus o hloubku I [Attempt at 
Depth] 1913-22) 

According to Fedit, the first studies on this theme were done as early as 1913, and 
this painting, although reworked later, was started at that time. One can indeed see 
analogies with Amorpha, Fugue of 191 2: in the predominantly red and blue palette, 
the fluid elliptical shapes and the idea of interlocking abstract patterns of pure color 
or pure sound. However, in contrast to Amorpha, Fugue, in which the visual am- 
biguity and revolutionary character derive from the painting's radical flatness, this 
picture shows a complex interplay between surface and depth. Kupka's pictorial 
goals are confirmed by the title he gave this painting in 1946: Attempt at Depth. 

A passage from Kupka's 1912-13 manuscript decribes an image which is strik- 
ingly close to the configurations seen here, although the analogy may be purely 
coincidental. In discussing the effect of red on blue, a combination Kupka favored, 
he said: "Have you never stopped to observe the horses which pull the wagons full 
of building materials? One can see a thin line of carmine red on their ultramarine 
blue collars. This thread of color is enough to make the blue vibrate with purple." 1 

1 Manuscript II, p. 19. 



147 Lines, Planes, Spaces III (Traits, 
plans, espaces 111), c. 192.3 [re- 
worked 1934] 

Oil on canvas, 70% x 50%" 
(180 x 128 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 99, repr. 

Vachtova, no. 230, repr. p. 176 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 4183-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


"Paris, 1924, la Boetie, no. 41 (first 
version, dated 1921, as Formes en 

Lille, 1925, no. 2 (as Traits, plans, 


'Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 35 

'Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 136 (dated 

Paris, 1949, Salon des Realites Nou- 

velles, no. 283 

*Paris, 1953, Salon des Realites Nou- 

velles, no. XL VI 
''New York, 1953, Rose Fried, no. 7 

(dated 1913) 
'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 43, pi. XVI 
'Cologne, 1967, no. 34, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 34, repr.; 

Amsterdam, 1968, no. 70; Prague, 

1968, no. 87, repr. 
Strasbourg, 1972, no. 62, fig. 19 

1 According to Fedit (in conversation 
with the author), "destroyed" means 
sanded down. 

2 See Fedit, p. in, for photograph of 
original version. 

On February 12, 1934, Eugenie Kupka wrote to Waldes, saying that over the past 
three days Kupka had "destroyed" this painting "begun in 1923. "' A small canvas 
(cat. no. 146) which had served as a study remained. However before the end of the 
month Kupka had reworked the painting and given it its present fotm. 

The initial state of this painting showed a more intricate pattern of loops recoil- 
ing into space similar to those seen in cat. no. 146. 2 In that state, the painting was 
exhibited at la Boetie as Formes en repoussoir, 1921 (Forms against a Foil). The 
present rendering is more open, more loosely articulated and more two-dimen- 
sional. The infinite arabesques meandering into undetermined depth are trans- 
formed into curved and severed abstract planes. 



148 Moving Blues (II?) (Bleus mou- 
vants [II?]). 1923-24 

Oil on canvas, 43% x 42V2" 
(no x 108 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 93, repr. 

Vachtova, no. 254, repr. p. 310 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 4186-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


*Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 154 (dated 

"Paris, 1953, Salon des Realties Nou- 

velles (hors catalogue) 
Lille, 1956 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 31, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 31, repr.; 

Vienna, 1967, no. 37; Amsterdam, 

1968, no. 61, repr.; Prague, 1968, 

no. 85, repr. 

1 As proposed by Vachtova, p. 190. The 
illustration is the cul de lampe for Vol. 
I, Book I, Chapter VI, "Divisions and 
Rhythm of History," published in 
1905. Thus Vachtova's 1907 date is 
incorrect. See fig. za, p. 42 here. 

2 Volume I, Book II, Chapter III, 
"Potamia," p. 530. 

Three variations on this theme exist today. A fourth, probably the first version (de- 
stroyed by the artist) was exhibited at la Boetie in 1924 as Bleus mouvants (reminis- 
cence d'Esterel) 1922-24, cat. no. 47. The subtitle provides a key to the iconography 
of the series, Esterel being a seaside resort on the Riviera. As Fedit points out, 
Kupka was attempting to depict the universal cosmic rhythm which rules the tides 
and the constellations in this image, where waves and sky meet in two distinctive 

An illustration from L'Homme et la terre in which one sees bodies borne by 
waves in a rhythmic flow may have been a distant source for this series. 1 A typically 
Art Nouveau interpretation, this type of imagery is found not only in Klimt [Fishes 
Blood, as Vachtova notes) but in a 1902 picture by the Czech artist Svabinsky 
(Rodin's Inspiration) which shows intertwined figures floating in the sky. 

If one looks back as far as L'Homme et la terre, a book which marked Kupka's 
thinking decisively, another of its pictures may have engendered Kupka's pictorial 
idea. A diagram with the inscription "How men of antiquity understood the world" 
shows two vaulted forms, one above the other, labeled respectively "the starry 
vault" and "the earth." These two shapes are surrounded by emblematic waves 
which signify "the celestial ocean" and "the inferior ocean: chaos." 2 

The third version (cat. no. 149), according to Vachotva (p. 279), was reworked 
between 1928 and 1936. It is difficult to say whether it was done earlier or later 
than this painting. When exhibited in Kupka's 1936 retrospective, the artist dated 
it 1923, which seems a bit early in view of the la Boetie dates which presumably 
would be more exact. The artist dated the present painting 1923 (Prague, 1946) 
and 1923-24 on his personal label on the back. 



149 Moving Blues (Bleus mouvants). 
1923; reworked 192.8-36 

Oil on canvas, 46V2 x 44ys" 
(118 x 112 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 255, color pi. XXI 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 



the artist 

Prague Castle 

to present owner, 1951 


*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 39, 

*Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 153 (dated 

''Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 49 
*Prague, 1965, no. 9 (dated 1922-36) 
:: "Usti nad Orlici, 1965 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 75, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 75, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 35; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 

60, repr.; Prague, 1968, no. 84, repr. 
Stockholm-Goteborg, 1973, no. 96 
(dated 1922-36) 



150 Moving Blues (Bleus mouvants). 
c. 1925-2.7 

Oil on canvas, 44V2 x 44V2" 
(113 x 113 cm.) 

Signed and dated 11 "Kupka//33" 

Vachtova, cat. no. 256 (incorrect 
entry), repr. p. 193 

Collection P. P., Paris 


the artist 

to present owner 


"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 34 

(as Plans en mouvement) 
Paris, 1949, Salon des Realties Nou- 
velles, no. 284, (as Bleus par plans) 
'Taris, 1953, Salon des Realties 

"Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 64, 
pi. XXIII 

In this late version of Moving Blues— the last of the series and probably painted c. 
1925-27 despite the fact that it is dated 1933 on the canvas— the upper and lower 
arabesques are virtually identical in formal structure. This is in keeping with 
Kupka's theory of the unique cosmic rhythm that regulates both stars and oceans. 
It is also consistent with his more purely philosophical belief that what is above is 
also below (see cat. no. $6). 

In his 1910-n notebook he wrote (in Greek and then in German): "Table of 
Memphis: Heaven above heaven below//Stars above stars below/ /Everything 
above is also below/ /Accept it thus and be content." 1 

1 Manuscript I, p. 19. 



151 Equation of Moving Blues (Equa- 
tion des bleus en mouvement). 

Oil on canvas, 35V2 x 35V2" 
(90 x 90 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 282, repr. p. 209 

Collection P. P., Paris 


the artist 

to present owner 


""Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 65 

(as Equation des bleus mouvants, 

dated 1929) 
*Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 155 (dated 

Sao Paulo-Buenos Aires, 1949, no. 47 
(as Equacao de pianos mouventes 
HI), repr. 14 

Paris, 1953, Salon des Realites 
*Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 62 (as 

Equation des plans mouvants III, 

dated 1931) 

This painting shows a more abstract interpretation of the theme illustrated in Mov- 
ing Blues (cat. nos. 148-150). The arithmetic terminology in the title and the geo- 
metric forms suggest that Kupka was referring to Plato's cosmology as presented 
in the Timoeus. 1 According to Plato, arithmetic and geometric terms are the mean 
between the phenomenon and the idea, or a way of translating the undifferentiated 
mass of the material world into the realm of ideas. Furthermore, within this system, 
each element of the world corresponds to a precise geometric figure which is a tri- 
angle. In the present painting, Kupka's earlier emblematic imagery is translated into 
an equation of geometric figures. 

Kupka dated this painting 1929 for his 1946 exhibition. It was reproduced in 
Abstraction-Creation, no. 1, 1932, p. 23, dated 1931. Its obvious derivation from 
Moving Blues of 1925-27 (cat. no. 150), yet its more systematic and visible brush- 
work which forecasts that seen in Untitled, 1931 (cat. no. 169), obviously a more 
advanced variation on the same theme, makes it difficult to date this picture 

1 Apparently Timoeus and Philebus were 
Kupka's favorite Platonic writings. 


i6 3 

152 Study for Around a Point. (Etude 
pour Autour d'un -point) .1911-12 

Gouache, watercolor and pencil on 
paper, 7V2 x 8V2" (19 x 21.6 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 

153 Study for Around a Point (Etude 
pour Autour d'un point), c. 19 19 

Gouache, watercolor and pencil on 
paper, 8 x 9" (20.3 x 22.9 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 


154 Study for Around a Point (Etude 
pour Autour d'un Point). 1920-25 

Gouache and pencil on paper, 
7% x 8" (19.7 x zo.3 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 

155 Study for Around a Point (Etude 
pour Autour d'un point). 1920-25 

Gouache on paper, 14V2 x x6 x A" 
(36.8 X41.3 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 

POT ,'jF 


156 Study for Aroun d a Point (Etude 
pour Autonr d'un point). 1920-25 

Pencil on paper, 5% x 5V6" 
(15 x 13 cm.) 

Stamped 11 "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 109, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 2.718-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


157 Study for Around a Point (Etude 
pour Autonr d'un point). 1920-25 

Pencil on paper, j% x j%" 
(19.7x19.7 cm.) 

Stamped 11 "Kupka" 

Collection Theodoros Stamos 


the artist 

Estate of the artist 

Karl Flinker 

Spencer A. Samuels and Company, 


to present owner 



158 Study for Around a Point (Etude 
pour Autour d'un point). 1920-25 

Gouache on paper, 16% x 17V2" 
(42.9x44.5 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 

159 Study for Around a Point (Etude 
pour Autour d'un point). 1920-25 

Gouache and gray chalk on light gray 
paper: mat window, 14 x 14%" 
(35.6x37.5 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 


160 Around a Point (Autourd'un 
point), c. 1925-30; reworked c. 

Oil on canvas, j6Ys x 78%" 
(194 x 200 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i 1-30;" 
inscribed 11 "autour//d'un point" 

Fedit, no. in, repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 321 3-P) 


the artist 

purchased by the French government, 


to present owner, transferred, 1953 


''Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 36 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 135 
*Paris, 1953, Salon des Realties Nou- 

velles, unnumbered 
Saint Etienne, 1957, no. 19, fig. 8 
London, 1957, no. 73 
*Paris, MNAM, no. 1 3, pi. VI 
"Cologne, 1967, no. 40, repr.; 
Munich, 1967, no. 40, repr.; 
Vienna, 1967, no. 17, repr.; Amster- 
dam, 1968, no. 80, repr. black and 
white, color; Prague, 1968, no. 88, 
repr. (upside down) 

Kupka dated this painting 1911-30 because the first tentative studies on the theme 
dated from c. 1911-12. Most of the final studies and the painting itself were ex- 
ecuted in 1920-30. Curiously, although Kupka did literally dozens of studies on 
paper on this theme, no other canvases are recorded. 

The earliest studies show the genesis of the idea: a mixture of the lotus flower 
(with its symbolism of mystical evolution; see cat. no. 4), cosmic space, and the 
Disks of Newton (cat. nos. 73, 75). As the image evolved, it became increasingly 
legible as the unfurled petals of a flower. Thus symbolic, cosmic and biological 
significance are combined. 

In the present painting these three dimensions are sublimated into a supremely 
abstract pictorial idea. The centrifugal/centripetal spiraling motion is of course one 
of Kupka's central themes. 

According to Fedit, a first state was probably achieved c. 1927 (see fig. 12, p. 
314), and was reworked c. 1934. This reworking, similar to that carried out on cat. 
no. 147 (and even cat. no. 146 at an unknown date), consisted of painting out many 
of the original colored motifs with white and opening up the composition. 



161 Planes by Curves (Plans par 
courbes). c. 1926 

Oil on canvas, 33V8 x 35%" 
(84 X91 cm.) 

Signed Ir "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 306, repr. p. 2.30 

Private Collection 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


Paris, 1958, Salon des Comparaisons, 

no. 204 

'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 55, pi. XIX 

The flat curved planes in this composition and in cat. no. 162 evolved from a group 
of pictures of 1919-22 (see discussion cat. no. 134). Vachtova identifies this canvas 
as Curved Planes II and dates it 1926-32. Because the title may have changed since 
the work was executed, and much of the surface has been repainted, it is difficult to 
document these dates exactly. However the evenly shifting curving planes (seen in 
both versions of Around a Point) situate this work at around that time. 


i6z Planes by Curves (Plans par 
courbes). c. 1926-30 

Oil on canvas, 26% x 26% " 
(68 x 68 cm.) 

Signed lr"Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

to present owner 

A watercolor for this painting exists in the collection of the Musee National a" Art 
Moderne, Paris (Fedit, cat. no. 103, p. 115). In her discussion of the study, Fedit 
identifies the present picture as Planes by Curves 11 and dates it c. 1926. This is 
plausible but hard to document. Whether this painting or cat. no. 161 is really 
Planes by Curves 11 remains to be established. However this picture appears to have 
been conceived and executed later than cat. no. 161 in that the central imagery is 
more autonomous and clearly defined, and less dependent on earlier themes and 
motifs. Furthermore, the horizontal-vertical framework of the composition and the 
predominantly blue ground with an accent of red relate this painting to The Form 
of Blue, 1930-31 ( 168). 



163 Arabesque 11 (Arabesque II). 

Oil on canvas, 39% x 31 7 /s" 
(100 x 81 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Collection Margit Chanin, Ltd. 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner 


''Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 124 (as 

Arabesque II, dated 1925-26) 
Sao Paulo-Buenos Aires, 1949, no. 45 
(dated 1925) 
Vienna, 1953 (cat. not located) 

The arabesque was a motif which intrigued Kupka from a very early date. He re- 
ferred to it often in his written texts, expressing his admiration for Islamic orna- 
ment. This formal idiom w r hich does not copy nature, said Kupka, "appears to us 
as a harmony of pure forms of noble distinction; it is a world superior to our own. 
There is more there than just a simple arabesque. There is much intelligence [esprit], 
an intelligence which sings eurythmy in its distribution of formal components." 1 

An unpublished text of c. 19 19, in which Kupka discussed the illustrations for 
The Song of Roland, 2 includes a long passage on the arabesque. Here Kupka refers 
to the eighth to eleventh century illuminated manuscripts he studied in preparation 
for his book: Celtic, Carolingian, Mozarabic, French and Spanish Romanesque, 
and describes the distinctive characteristics of each. The reader feels that he would 
have preferred to do abstract motifs for this early medieval text than the academic 
illustrations required of him. 

In 1925-26, Kupka did a series of paintings on the arabesque theme: Arabesque 
I, II, III; Closed Motif, Verticals and Diagonals in Green (MNAM, Paris). He also 
used this motif in the fourth section of his album of woodcuts devoted to vertical 
and diagonal planes (see cat. no. 165). 

1 Manuscript IV, Chapter I, p. 15. 

2 Executed 1917-18. Text courtesy of 
Andree Martinel-Kupka. 



164 Energetics II (Energiques II). 1926 

Oil on mattress ticking, 33% x 55W 
(85 x 140 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 269, color pi. XXIII 

Collection Narodm Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


Paris, 1926, Salon des Independants, 
no. 1954 

:: "Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 68 
''Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 108 
-'Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 52 

"Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, 
no. 20, repr. 

"Cologne, 1967, no. 76, repr.; 
Munich, 1967, no. 76, repr.; 
Vienna, 1967, no. 44, repr.; Amster- 
dam, 1968, no. 71, repr.; Prague, 
1968, no. 83, repr. 

Stockholm— Goteborg, 1973, no. 98 

The dulled palette, impastoed surface and jagged forms in this picture are char- 
acteristic of a small series of paintings and many studies on paper which Kupka ex- 
ecuted in c. 1926. The series included Energetics I (Vachtova, cat. no. 268) Energetic 
on Violet (MNAM, Paris). 

Both the dynamic deployment of energy seen in these autonomous lines and 
forms and the horizontal format echo Solo of a Brown Line of 1912-13 (cat. no. 
108). The interlacing of lines and planes evokes the idea of a fugue. Kupka may 
have been thinking in musical terms; a photograph found among his personal 
papers shows a 1925 painting, Orgue sur fond vert (Organ on a Green Ground), 
which seems to be transitional between the Arabesque subjects and the Energetics. 

One of the four themes of Kupka's 1926 album of woodcuts was based on these 
dynamic and asymmetrical motifs. 



165 Four Stories in Black and White 
(Quatre histoires de blanc et noir). 
Paris, 1926 

Portfolio of 26 woodcuts 

Sheet: 13^x9%" (33.3 X25.1 cm.); 
Block: 8 x 6Vs" (20.3 x 15.5 cm.) 

No. 149 of limited edition of 300 

Pages 4, 11,17,23 

Private Collection 

As the title suggests, this album of woodcuts is based on four formal themes which 
can be freely described as the following (in order): 

1) Organic/decorative 

2) Angular 

3) Undulating/cosmic 

4) Vertical and diagonal planes 

Almost all these themes and variations are found in Kupka's paintings throughout 
the decade of the twenties. 


Each theme was illustrated in six variations. One of each series is shown here. The 
album included a title page and a written introduction by Kupka in which he ex- 
plained the independent life and significance of abstract formal motifs. This book, 
far removed in time from the artist's pre-1900 Central European training (see pp. 
17-23 here), nonetheless shows its enduring imprint. 


1 66 Drinking Steel (L'Acier boit). 

Oil on canvas, 17% x 20%" 
(45 x 53 cm.) 
Signed lr "Kupka" 
Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 


"Paris, i960, Karl Flinker, repr. color 

Between 1927 and 1930, Kupka suffered a period of crisis in his art. Aside from his 
ill health which is abundantly noted in the correspondence between Eugenie Kupka 
and lea Waldes, the critical failure and financial disaster of his 1926 woodcut album 
may have contributed to his acute anxiety. The fact that he did not exhibit at the 
Salon des Independents between 1926 and 1933 offers further evidence of his 

It was during this period that Kupka began a series of pictures on the subject of 
machines. Apparently he looked toward the world of machines to enrich his formal 
vocabulary. The contrast of circular and rectilinear elements emphasized in the 
machine paintings will be found, distilled into pure abstract components, in many 
paintings of the 1930s. 

Despite the fact that many of the machine pictures are quite successful in terms 
of formal composition, Kupka seems to have considered them marginal and chose 
not to include them in exhibitions of his work. 

There are three virtually identical paintings of Drinking Steel. The other two are 
in the Narodni Galerie, Prague, and the Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris. 


,\i6j Machines. 1929-3Z 

Oil on canvas, 41% x 47.%" 

(106 x 108.5 cm -) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. z88, color pi. XXV 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 

(O 2265) 


the artist 


to present owner, 1940 


*Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, no. 

25, repr. 
"Prague, 1968, no. 95, repr. 
"Belgrade, 1969, no. 18, repr. 


1 68 Untitled; The Form of Blue (?) (La 
Forme du bleu [?]). 1929-31 

Oil on canvas, 26% x 26%" 
(68x68 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

Rose Fried Gallery, New York 

to present owner 


Paris, 1929 (as La Forme du bleu)? 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 164 (as 

[The Form of Blue], 1951, 

70 x 70 cm.)? 
*New York, 1953, Rose Fried, no. 

9 or 10 
"New York, 1964, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 6 or 7 
London-Austin, 1973, no. 73, repr. 

1 Manuscript II, pp. 19-20. 

For Kupka, the physiological properties of color (number, length, speed of wave 
lengths) dictate an ideal shape. The ideal form for red is round, orange is oval, 
green is undulating, etc. Although individual paintings illustrating these ideas were 
executed starting in 1919-23, the theory was formulated prior to World War I. 

The ideal form of blue is vertical and rectilinear: "Blue, like its closest neighbors 
on the spectrum, because it seems to recede in space, or at least draw back into 
itself, should be motivated or enclosed by tapered, rectilinear forms. 1 

Most of the paintings called The Form of Blue (NG, Prague; Collection Mr. and 
Mrs. Andrew P. Fuller, New York), remain strictly within the range of the blue 
palette and are rendered in a hatched almost woven impasto, in which the direction 
of the brushstrokes seems to duplicate the color's wave lengths as Kupka under- 
stood them. The present painting appears to be a later version: the surface texture 
is more even; the brushstroke relatively invisible. The red line pushes the blues 
toward violet, just as in Family Portrait (cat. no. 44) and Amorpha, Fugue (cat. 
no. 92). 

All the paintings on the theme of blue are equivocal in their connotations of 
ascent/descent. As seen elsewhere (see discussion, cat. no. 96), the two movements 
are equivalent, not contradictory, in Kupka's mind. The diamond-shaped forms 
used in other paintings on this theme and the tapered diagonal planes pointing 
upward/downward here unite both directions in a single form. 


169 Untitled. 193 1 

Oil on canvas, 2.6% x z6%" 
(68x68 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 

Rose Fried Gallery, New York 

to present owner 


'New York, 1953, Rose Fried, no. 9 

(as Triangles, dated 1934) 
New York, i960, Chalette; Cincin- 
nati, i960; Chicago, i960; Minne- 
apolis, 1961, no. 16 (as Triangles, 
dated 1934) 
*New York, 1964, Royal S. Marks, 

no. 6 or 7 
Dallas, 1972., no. 33 (as Triangles, 
dated 1934), repr. 

Since the exact title of this painting is unknown, it is impossible to find any clues 
to its dating through early exhibition histories. Furthermore the image is unique 
and the technique of threaded color is unusual. The triangles, their interrelation- 
ships, and the diagonally articulated ground, relate this painting to Equation of 
Moving Blues (cat. no. 151). Yet the rhythm which was so important to Kupka 
is entirely different here. The strictly parallel alignments in the present picture 
are far removed from the free-flowing natural rhythms seen in the earlier painting. 
The tighter more symmetrical arrangement will be characteristic of Kupka's work 
in the 1930s. The square format is also more frequent during that decade. 



170 Abstractions drawn by Frantisek 
Kupka (Abstrah.ce Kreslil 
Frantisek Kupka). 1928-32.; 

Book of 1 6 pages, 8V4 x 6" 
(21 x 15.3 cm.) each 

Private Collection 


i! 1i~ 

According to Fedit (p. 137), these drawings were probably worked on in the 
period 1928-32, at a time when Kupka was attempting to purify his forms. The 
first twelve of the total of sixteen were originally published on a single page in 
Abstraction-Creation, no. 2, 1933, p. 26. This repertory of forms will be found 
developed in diverse manners throughout the 1930s. Many of the original gouaches 
and related studies are in the Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris. 

In 1948, the entire sixteen were published on separate sheets in the small book 
exhibited here. 


171 Diagonal Planes II (Plans diago- 
nauxll). 193 1 

Oil on canvas, 35 1 /2X43 1 ,4" 
(90 x no cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 302, repr. p. 225; 

color pi. XXVII 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 



the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 67 
"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 114 
*Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, no. 

27, repr. 
*Usti nad Orlici, 1965, no. 17 
''Cologne, 1967, no. 79, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 79, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 53; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 

93, repr.; Prague, 1968, no. 101, 

Geneva, 1970, no. 72; Zurich, 1970, 
no. 72 


172. Reduced replica of Diagonal 
Planes V (Plans diagonaux V). 

Gouache, 6 l A x 67s" (16 x 17.5 cm.) 
Signed lr "Kupka" 
Collection Karl Flinker 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
to present owner 

This is a small scale replica of an oil painting of 1931-33. 1 The number of the 
painting in the series of Diagonal Planes remains unclear. Kupka has identified 
the gouache as Diagonal Planes V; the dimensions for it in the Carre 195 1 ex- 
hibition catalogue correspond to those of Diagonal Planes I, Prague 1946, cat. no. 
113. Vachtova identifies this composition as Diagonal Planes 111. 

1 Collection Louis Carre, Paris. 


lS 5 

173 Abstract Painting (Peinture 
abstraite). 1930-32 

Oil on canvas, 49^ x 33V2" 
(125 x 85 cm.) 

Signed 1 of c "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 301, color pi. XXIX 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(O 3827) 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


Paris, 1936, Salon des lndependants, 

no. 1810 

*Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 58, 

^Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 82 
*Paris, 1958, MNAM, no. 60 
*Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, 

no. 26 
^Prague, 1965, Galerie Karlovo 

Namesti, no. 13 
*Usti nad Orlici, 1965, no. 16 
'"Cologne, 1967, no. 78, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 78, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 51, repr.; Amsterdam, 

1968, no. 81, repr.; Prague, 1968, 
no. 99, repr. 

Geneva, 1970, no. 71; Zurich, 1970, 
no. 71 

Stockholm-Goteborg, 1973, no. no 

This painting is one of Kupka's earliest and purest neo-plastic statements. Ob- 
viously inspired by the black and white gouaches of 1928-32, it can be specifically 
related to the third and sixth drawings in that series. In drawing no. 3 of the 1933 
publication, a vertical line extends from the top edge of the study, a horizontal 
from the right side. The position of the off-center rectangle is determined by their 
intersection at its upper left corner. A third vector, from the lower edge and longer 
than the other two, is not drawn, but is implicit. Similarly, the three lines in 
Abstract Painting, if extended, would intersect and bound the three sides of a 

In 1912-13, Kupka wrote: "The straight line represents the abstract world. It 
is absolute . . . the optical sense grasps it in its entirety and easily imagines its 
extension in space. Since the line starts from a point, the eye merely records it as 
a direction." 1 

This painting is generally dated 1930. Supposedly in that year, Kupka did little 
painting (see Chronology) and there are no paintings showing such a pure con- 
ception and consummate control before 1931-32. Apparently the founding of the 
Abstraction-Creation group in February 1931 encouraged him to pursue his objec- 
tive of "pure painting." In 1932, he wrote to Waldes: "I have abandoned machines 
and am back to pure abstraction." 2 Since the black and white gouaches were not 
published until 1933, and this painting was not exhibited before 1936, one is 
tempted to question the 1930 date. 

1 Manuscript II, p. 35. 

2 Vachtova, p. 22.2. 



174 Planes 11 (Plans II). 193Z 

Watercolor on paper, 10% x 14" 
(27 x35.5 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Courtesy Galerie Denise Rene, Paris 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Karl Flinker 
to present owner 


175 Eudia (Eudia). 1933 

Oil on canvas, 26 x 26" (66 x 66 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 308, repr. p. 2.2.7; color 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


"Paris, 1936, Jeu de Paume, no. 53 
''Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 85 
*Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, no. 

28, repr. 

s 'Usti nad Orlici, 1965, no. 18 
London, 1967, no. 82, repr. 
Brussels-Rotterdam, 1967, no. 82 
'Prague, 1968, no. 102, repr. (on its 


The term "Eudia" was one which Kupka referred to throughout his lifetime. It was 
fundamental to his aesthetic. The first written reference to the term is in the 1910-n 
notebook: "Greece gave us Eudia, measure, a sense of proportions and rhythms; 
[Greece] gave us rational knowledge, but could not and never will transform our 
tendencies toward intuitions, sentimentality, dreams." 1 A few pages later he noted: 
"The spontaneous rhythm [created] by the repetition of proportions represented 
by lines or planes is like the assemblage of motifs on a printed fabric. The conscious 
and desired rhythm, harmony, Eudia of all components." 2 

1 Manuscript I, p. 9. 

2 Ibid., p. 26. 

ij6 Syncopated Black Disks (Disques 
noirs syncopes). 1930-33 

Gouache and pencil on paper, 
9% x 7%" (25 x 20 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of 
Art, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1968 


the artist 

Estate of the artist 

Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris 

Private Collection, New York 

Spencer A. Samuels and Company, 


to present owner 

This watercolor is one of the earlier of Kupka's 1928-32 abstractions, revealed 
by the fluidity of its forms. The composition is obviously inspired by Etalage jaune 
et violet (Display of Yellow and Purple), dated 1921-29 by Kupka (Vachtova cat. 
no. 219, repr. p. 304; dated 1921). In a 1933 photograph of Kupka in his studio, 
one can see this painting on the upper left wall (fig. 12, p. 314). Syncopated Black 
Disks also draws on the formal invention of The Horesmen (cat. no. 9) and shows 
a point of departure for the disarticulated circles seen throughout the 1930s. 


177 Dynamic Disks? (Disques dynami- 
ques?). 1931-33 

Gouache on paper, 11 x 11" 
(28 x 28 cm.) 

Signed 11 "Kupka" 
Collection Richard S. Zeisler, 
New York 


the artist 

Rose Fried Gallery, New York 

to present owner 

This gouache is a study for the painting on the left in fig. 12, p. 314, a work which 
was obviously derived from the circular forms and rectilinear background seen in 
the machine painting, Synthese (Synthesis, NG, Prague) visible to the right of it. 
The juxtaposition of these two paintings shows how the abstract imagery of the 
1930s and 1940s developed from the machine series. 

The painting Around a Point, visible on Kupka's easel in this photograph, is seen 
in its first state, prior to c. 1934. Synthesis is seen here in its final state, probably 
1933, which confirms a 1933 dating of the photograph, and helps establish the 
dating of this gouache. 


178 Study for Circulars and Recti- 
linears. 1931-35 

Gouache on paper, izYt x 11%" 
(31. 1 x 29.9 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. G. E. S., 
New York 


the artist 

to present owner, 1955 

The collage technique used in this study (an assemblage of three separate pieces 
of paper) provides an insight into Kupka's way of preparing some of his composi- 
tions during this period. In view of the fairly classic closed forms, this must be a 
rather early study for the 1937 painting Circulars and Rectilinears. 

179 Circulars and Rectilinears (Circu- 
lates et rectilignes). 1937 

Oil on wood, 40V& x 40%" 
(102 x 102 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 316, color pi. XXVI 

Collection Narodni Galerie, Prague 
(O 3826) 


the artist 

to present owner, 1946 


^Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 147 
:: ~Pisek— Ceske Budejovice, 1961, 

no. 30 
"Prague, 1965, Galerie Karlovo 

Namestf, no. 12 
*Usti nad Orlici, 1965, no. 19 
London, 1967, no. 83 
Brussels-Rotterdam, 1967, no. 83, 

''Prague, 1968, no. 103, repr. 
''Belgrade, 1969, no. 19, repr. 
Stockholm-Goteborg, 1973, no. 112 


The overlapping and segmented circular forms in this painting are distinctly 
reminiscent of Lissitsky's revolutionary Proun paintings executed prior to 1924. 
In Kupka's case, it is generally assumed and visually logical that he developed these 
configurations autonomously, as an abstract extension of his studies of machines. 
Nonetheless the question of whether Lissitsky's Prouns exerted some influence 
remains unanswered. The latter works were surely known to Kupka, through his 
involvement with the Abstraction-Creation group. 


180 Divertimento I (Divertissement I). 

Oil on canvas, 23 5 /s x 3614" 
(60 x92 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Vachtova, no. 315 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Andrew P. 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner 


^Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 148 
Lausanne, 1955, no. 47 



1 8 1 Divertimento II (Divertissement 
II). 1938 

Oil on canvas, 24 x 35" (62 x 90 cm.) 

Signed lr"Kupka" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. G. E. S., 
New York 


the artist 

to present owner, c. 1955 


"Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 149 
:> New York, 1953, Rose Fried, no. 4 
New York, i960, Chalette; Cincin- 
nati, i960; Chicago, i960; Minne- 
apolis, 1961, no. 14, repr. 
New York, 1964, Sidney Janis, no. 9, 

1 A good selection of these paintings is 
in the MNAM, Pans. 

Divertimento I and // show the complex circular forms seen in Circulars and 
Rectilinears. They owe their horizontal format, intricate rhythms and deviation 
from the primary color scale to a group of pictures on the theme of Jazz which, 
as looser variations on the machine theme, were executed in 1935-37.' The title 
Divertimento may contain an allusion to music and thereby be a conscious ex- 
tension of the Jazz concept and formal themes. 



i8z Untitled. 1933? 

Gouache on paper, 10% x 11 
(27.3 x 28 cm.) 

Inscribed, signed and dated Ir "A 
mon cher ami//Lieberman [sic]// 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Alexander 


the artist 

to present owner, 1950's 


183 Orange Circle (Cercle orange). 

Gouache on paper, 16V2 x 16V2" 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Richard S. Zeisler, 
New York 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris 
to present owner 

This is a study for the painting Orange Circle (Private Collection, New York) 
exhibited in Prague, 1946, cat. no. 150, dated 1946. The motif is seen in the late 
abstract drawings of 1945-46 (see cat. no. 170, no. 14). Once again the source of 
inspiration was probably a mechanical apparatus, such as the one in the upper 
left of fig. 16, p. 317, which may be a strobe light. 


184 Reduced replica of Contrasts 

Series C III, Elevation (Serie Con- 
trasteslll, Elevation). 1932.-38 

Gouache on cream paper, 9% x 13" 
(25 x33 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka;" inscribed r 
margin "Elevation, //Exp. New 
York//i 9 32-38//chez L. Carre." 

Fedit, no. i53,repr. 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 

Paris (AM 2791-D) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 




1 Listed by Fedit as a study for the 
painting, this author believes this work 
to be a reduced replica done after the 
finished work. 

This gouache is a replica of Contrasts Series 111. 1 The painting (Prague, 1946, cat. 
no. 96, dated 1935-46) is in the Collection Louis Carre, Paris. Carre dated it 1938 
in his 1951 exhibition of the artist's work. The title betrays the work's architectural 
inspiration. The formal components derive from the 1928-32 gouaches. 

Kupka, Contrasts Series VI, 1935-46, oil, 
NG, Prague. 

185 Contrasts Series (IV?) (Serie con- 
trastes [IV?]). 1935-46 

Oil on canvas, 26 x 28%" 
(66 x 72 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Collection Mr. and Mrs. Andrew P. 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner 


*Prague, 1946, Manes, no. 97 (as 
Serie C IV) 

This work, like cat. nos. 184, 186, 187, belongs to a series which Kupka worked 
on primarily between 1935 and 1946. It is unclear whether he worked on them 
during the war years, or started them before going to Beaugency and finished them 
afterwards. 1 Ten paintings called Serie C, numbered I through X, all dated 1935- 
46, were exhibited in Prague, 1946 (cat. nos. 94-103). 

All of these paintings show a definite architectural inspiration. The most obvious 
is seen in Serie C VI, Narodni Galerie, Prague. 2 Some of the studies (ex. cat. no. 
186; also Fedit, cat. no. 154, p. 152) suggest a debt to van Doesburg. 3 The early 
works in the series contained complex patterns and vivid colors. Gradually the 
compositions became simpler, the colors more monochromatic (see cat. nos. 186, 

The dimensions of this painting suggest that it was Serie C IV (Prague, 1946, 
no. 97). 

1 See chronology. Fedit maintains that 
Kupka did no painting in Beaugency 
(in conversation with the author). 

2 See fig., p. 298. This painting shows 
surprising similarities to Sophie 
Taeuber-Arp's 1926 architectural 
drawings for L'Aubette in Strasbourg, 
drawings which include, in an arch- 
itectural framework, her designs for 
floor tiles. (See cat. for exhibition Art 
abstrait constructif international, 
December 1961, Galerie Denise Rene, 
Paris, n.p., repr.) A reminiscence (?) of 
the tile pattern is seen in the central 
portion of this painting. 

3 For example, van Doesburg's Destruc- 
tive Composition, 1918 (watercolor), 
The Non-Objective "World, 1914-1955, 
University Art Museum, University of 
Texas at Austin, 1973, repr. p. 63. 


1 86 Study for Series C (Etude pour 
SerieC). 1935-46 

Gouache on paper, 10% x 11V2" 
(Z7.4 x 29. z cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Private Collection 


the artist 
Eugenie Kupka 
Karl Flinker 
Gimpel Fils, London 
to present owner, 1964 

— r 



187 Contrasts Series XI (Serie con- 
trastesXI). 1947 

Oil on composition board, 28% x 
23%" (72.x 60 cm.) 

Signed lr "Kupka" 

Fedit, no. 155, repr. 
Vachtova, no. 328, repr. p. 245 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 4201-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


Paris, 1947, Salon des Realties 
Nouvelles, no. 184 (hors catalogue) 
Taris, 1953, Salon des Realties 

Nouvelles, no. XLVIII 
Saint Etienne, 1957, no. 23, repr. no. 9 
''Cologne, 1967, no. 62, repr.; 

Munich, 1967, no. 62, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 57; Amsterdam, 1968, no. 

102, repr.; Prague, 1968, no. 105, 


r_ r 

The artist's label on the stretcher identifies this painting as Serie contrastes X, 
1947. Since the 1946 Prague catalogue gives very different dimensions for no. X 
in this series (Prague, 1946, cat. no. 103, 38 x 46 cm.), this painting, presumably 
done after the exhibition, must be no. XI. The last painting in the series, according 
to Fedit, no. XII, dated 1954 by Kupka, is also in the Musee National d'Art 
Moderne, Paris (Fedit, cat. no. 158, p. 156). 


Vibration through Lines (Vibrants 
par traits). 1948 

Oil on canvas, 43% x 35V2" 
(109.9 X90.2 cm.) 

Signed and dated 1c "Kupka//48" 

Collection Margit Chanin, Ltd. 


the artist 

Galerie Louis Carre, Paris 

to present owner 


Paris, 1949, Maeght, no. 100 

:: 'New York, 1951, Louis Carre, no. 16 

Paris, 1955, no. 52 

Vienna, 1953, no. 53? (cat. not 



189 Autonomous White 'Blanc au- 
tonome). 1952 

Oil on canvas, 2.7V2 x 27V2" 
(70 x 70 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//52." 

Fedit, no. 157, repr. 
Vachtova, no. 347, repr. p. 244 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (AM 4202-P) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift, 1963 


*Paris, 1953, Salon des Realties 
Nouvelles, no. LY as Blanc 

= 'Cologne, 1967, no. 63, repr.; 
Munich, 1967, no. 63, repr.; Vienna, 

1967, no. 58, repr.: Amsterdam, 

1968, no. 103, repr. twice; Prague, 
1968, no. 106, repr. 


190 Tivo Blues II (Deux Bleus II). 1956 

Oil on canvas, 3 8 14 x ly'/i' 
(97.2 x 84.6 cm.) 

Signed and dated lr "Kupka//i956" 

Collection The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum, New York, 
Gift, Mme. Eugenie Kupka, 
Courbevoie, France, 1962 (1618) 


the artist 

Eugenie Kupka 

to present owner, gift 


Sao Paulo, 1957, no. 43 
New York, 1967, SRGM 
New York, 1970, SRGM 

During his last years, once again Kupka returned to the theme of the Form of Blue 
(see cat. no. 168). In 1955, he executed Two Blues I (MNAM, Paris), a slightly 
more elaborate and dynamic painting, followed by Two Blues II in 1956. The 
form of the vertical lozenge is the ideal shape of blue. Usually Kupka used a single 
form in his paintings on this theme. However the double motif as seen here was 
used in an earlier version of 1919-24 (Collection Mr. and Mrs. Andrew P. Fuller, 
New York). 



Meda Mladek and Margit Rowell 

i The documentation for this chronology 
has been compiled from many sources. 
Whenever possible, primary source 
material has been consulted, most of 
which is unpublished. These sources 

Unpublished correspondence: Kupka/ 
J. S. Machar (1900-1911), Collection 
Strahov Library, Prague; Kupka/ 
Arthur Roessler (1894-1914), Collec- 
tion Wiener Stadtbibliothek, Vienna; 
Eugenie Kupka/Ica Waldes (1919- 
1936), Collection Narodni Galerie, 
Prague; Kupka/Jindrich Waldes (1919- 
1936), Collection Narodni Galerie, 
Prague; Kupka/A. P. Gallien (partic- 
ularly 1921-1927), Collection Gallien; 
Kupka/Theo van Doesburg (1926- 
1931), Collection Nelly van Doesburg; 
Kupka/Georges Vantongerloo (1934- 
195 1), Collection Max Bill; Kupka/ 
Max Bill (1945), Collection Max Bill; 
and unpublished personal notes of the 

Since it would be impossible to foot- 
note every item, only the most 
essential or problematic references 
have been footnoted here. 

2 In much of his autobiographical 
material, Kupka gives September 23 as 
his birth date. The birth certificate of 
the Opocno parish also indicates 
September 23. However the Dobruska 
archives record the date of birth as 
September 22 and the date of baptism 
as September 23. The family tree 
established by Kupka's sister also gives 
the date September 22. Therefore 
despite the error which Kupka perpe- 
trated by giving the September 23 date 
to all of his biographers, September 22 
seems to be correct. 

3 An exceptional teacher for his time, 
Studnicka oriented his students toward 
the abstract symbolism and expressive 
values of color, shape and line. He 
wrote a grammar of ornament which 
was published in installments in the 
1880's, upon which many of Kupka's 
ideas, expressed much later, are based. 


Born September zi 2 in Opocno, a 
small city in Eastern Bohemia to 
Vaclav Kupka, a notarial clerk, and 
his wife Josefa Spackova. Eldest of 
five children. 


Family moves to Dobruska, where 
father appointed district secretary. 
Father carves toys for Frantisek and 
teaches him to draw. 

Falls dangerously ill with smallpox 
which scars his face for life. 

July 26: death of his mother. 


Sent to live with Vogel, a miller, in a 
small village in Orlicke Hory, 
Olesnice, where he learns German 
and completes his compulsory educa- 
tion requirements. 

Registers as apprentice with master 
saddler Siska who initiates him to 
spiritism. Runs away several times, 
visiting nearby cities where he 
admires Baroque painting and 


Travels to southern Bohemia in 
search of employment. Fills diary with 
sketches of regional costumes. Spends 
several months in Domazlice, where 
he learns to mix colors and paints 
saints and trade signs in an artist's 

Returns to Dobruska. Receives first 
commission, for a painting of St. 

Joseph, from Archleb, mayor of 
Dobruska. Archleb introduces him to 
Studnicka, 3 director of Crafts School 
at Jammer, who accepts him as a 
private student and prepares him for 
Prague Academy. Highly recom- 
mended by Studnicka, enters prepara- 
tory class at Prague Academy in 


Enrolls in Prague Academy's Depart- 
ment of Historical and Religious 
painting. Studies with Sequens, a 
Nazarene painter. Activity as a 
medium helps him earn a living, but 
contributes to emotional instability. 
Summer in Dobruska where he rents 
a studio in the house of Alois Beer, a 
folk painter and chronicler. Paints a 
large view of Dobruska for Archleb. 

Manifests strong patriotic sentiment, 
painting figures in folk costume in the 
style of Josef Manes, signing them 
Dubros and later D. Kupka to give his 
name a more Slavonic ring. He longs 
to go abroad, feeling that his future 
lies elsewhere. 

Admitted to Sequens' master class. 
Continues to paint historical patriotic 
themes. Summer in Valassko, Mora- 
via, a region rich in folklore, where 
he paints figures in local costume. 
Continues activity as a medium. 

August 2.1: receives diploma from 
Prague Academy. Summer in Ziletice 
near Znojmo. 

October 10: enrolls at Vienna Acad- 
emy where he is admitted directly to 
master class of Eisenmenger, another 


Nazarene. Shares apartment with 
Milos Meixner, a fellow student from 
Prague, at Pilgramgasse 13. Under 
Eisenmenger's influence, paints sym- 
bolic allegorical subjects, hoping in 
vain to win a Rome Prize and a year 
in Rome. 

Extreme poverty forces him to with- 
draw from Academy. 

Reinstated at Academy as scholarship 
student. Reads avidly; particularly 
Greek and German philosophers: 
Plato, Aristotle, Paracelsus, Kant, 
Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and 
German Romantics. Also reads 
extensively on astronomy, chemistry, 
natural history and sciences, anatomy, 
astrology, Theosophy, eastern relig- 
ions, witchcraft and occult sciences. 
Apartment with Meixner becomes 
meeting place for members of a 
Theosophical(P) group who call 
themselves "Brothers," indulge in 
philosophical discussions and sign 
their correspondence with a "W." 
Commissioned by the Kunstverein to 
paint a monumental work, The Last 
Dream of the Dying Heine. Rents a 
studio on Porcelangasse and with- 
draws from Academy. 


With exhibition of The Last Dream 
of the Dying Heine at Kunstverein, 

becomes overnight celebrity. Receives 
portrait commissions from Viennese 
aristocracy. Paints patriotic subjects 
for Czech organizations in Vienna. 
Through Meixner, meets Karl Dief- 
enbach, the "Kohlrabi Apostle," a 
German painter-philosopher living 
near Vienna since 1892. Becomes 
devoted disciple: vegetarian and 
physical culture enthusiast. Meets 
Maria Bruhn, a Danish dress designer, 
who offers him work as a fashion 
illustrator. Intense and stormy rela- 
tionship develops. 
Summer: travels to Denmark with 
Maria Bruhn. Leaves her to visit 
Norway, returns to Denmark to 
accompany her back to Vienna. 
Meets Austrian university student 
and art critic Arthur Roessler with 
whom he discusses philosophy and 
art and engages in a long corres- 
pondence. Involved in Theosophy 
and Oriental philosophy. 


Spring: settles permanently in Paris, 
taking small sunny attic room in 
Montmartre. 4 Despite extreme 
poverty, is very happy, overwhelmed 
by new impressions. Finds Paris a 
healthier atmosphere for painting, 
free from Vienna's mysticism and 
esoterism. Visits Alphonse Mucha, 
his compatriot, living in Paris, on rue 

fig- 1. 

Kupka, The Bibliomane, 1897, oil. 

4 Almost all of Kupka's biographical and 
autobiographical material states that 
he settled in Paris in 1895. However his 
letters to Roessler indicate that he did 
not settle there permanently until the 
Spring of 1896. 


fig. 2. 

Kupka, Monkey King, 1899, watercolor 
and pastel, Narodni Galerie, Prague. 


Kupka, Les Fous, 1899, lithograph. 

de la Grand Chaumiere. Will see him 
often in ensuing years. 


Maria Bruhn arrives in Paris, helps 
him financially. Takes short trip alone 
to London. Attends the Academie 
Julian briefly, leaves to study with 
J. P. Laurens, an historical and 
allegorical painter at the Ecole des 
Beaux-Arts. Abandons painting 
temporarily for fashion illustration. 
Moves with Maria to country house 
in La Breteche near Paris. Paints The 
Bibliomane, an attempted rejection of 
mysticism and return to nature, as 
well as return to painting. Maria falls 
seriously ill. 


Follows Maria to Vienna where she 
dies of cancer. Returns to Paris via 
Strasbourg. With small inheritance 
from Maria, rents a large studio and 
apartment at 10, rue Fromentin. Visits 
Jardin des Plantes to draw monkeys, 
in reaction against the superficial 
prettiness of fashion illustration. Dis- 
solute nights in Montmartre until 
money runs out. Meets Gabrielle 
whom he will immortalize in Money 
(cat. no. 1) the following year. 


Rents small studio at 84, boulevard 
Rochechouart, almost next door to 

Bruant's cabaret. Decides to become 
professional illustrator to earn a 
living. Illustrations for Cocorico; 
lithographs reproduced in La Flume 
and exhibited at the same gallery; 
posters for neighboring cabarets 
(L'Ane rouge, L'Auberge du clou, he 
Chat noir.) Exhibits for the first time 
in Paris at the Salon de la Societe 
Nationale des Beaux-Arts. 


Exhibits at Paris World's Fair in sec- 
tion reserved for Austrian artists— 
The Bibliomane, The Fools (Les Fous) 
and drawings. Visits World's Fair, is 
particularly impressed by "Cineo- 
rama," a cinematographic voyage to 
foreign countries in a balloon, 
projected on a circular screen. 
Continues illustrations for Der Tag in 
Berlin; LTllustration in Paris. Illus- 
trations for tales of Edgar Allen Poe 
(never published). Also a few por- 
traits. Czech poet Machar asks Kupka 
to illustrate his book covers. 


Moves to 57, rue Caulaincourt where 
he is Jacques Villon's neighbor. 
Marcel Duchamp will live here with 
his brother Villon in 1904-05. 
August: visits Machar in Vienna for 
four weeks. Enroute to Vienna pauses 
briefly in Munich to see Roessler. 


Sojourn with Gabrielle in Croatian 
mountains. Returning to Paris, works 
on cycle of satirical drawings 
"Money" (cat. no. n) for anarchist 
magazine L'Assiette au benrre. 
Furious for having wasted time on 
sentimental or symbolic subjects; 
nonetheless he continues to produce 
them. Fascinated by newly invented 
electric lights; visits electrical labora- 
tories and workshops to observe light 
and color. 


Exhibits at the Salon de la Societe 
Nationale des Beaux- Arts, Paris. 
Sends twenty-eight drawings and 
color lithographs to first Workers' 
Exhibition in Prague. Series "Money" 
is great success. 


Continues satirical drawings for 
French newspapers including Le 
Canard sauvage and Les Temps 
nouveaux. Travels to Rome for 
F Illustration. Traumatic break with 
Gabrielle. Visits Parisian studios with 
Czech critic; disappointed by what he 
sees. Calls the painters "comedians," 
more interested in success than art. 
Admires Villon however. "He suffers 
from Japonism and finds my painting 

old fashioned." Reads French 
authors, likes Baudelaire, Villiers de 
l'Isle-Adam; rejects Dumas and 
Victor Hugo. 


Exhibits Ballad-]oys (cat. no. 8) 
and lithographs at St. Louis World's 
Fair. Works on several new satirical 
cycles for L'Assiette au benrre: 
"Religion," "Civilization," "Free- 
dom," "Peace." Learns some English. 
Meets Eugenie (Nini) Straub, wife of 
Alsatian army officer, mother of 
three-year old Andree. By year's end 
they are living together. Accepts offer 
to illustrate L'Homme et la terre by 
anarchist writer Elisee Reclus. Book 
and its thesis "Man is nature becom- 
ing aware of itself" appeals to him. 


L'Assiette au beurre sold; Kupka's 
contract cancelled. Extensive study 
and work on Reclus' illustrations- 
studies Chaldaic and Phoenician 
excavation material exhibited in Paris 
by Renan, Layard, Dienlafoi. Reads 
books on antiquity, the Bible. Also 
attends lectures on physics, biology, 
physiology at the Sorbonne. Writes 
Machar "It seems unnecessary to 

fig- 4- 

Kupka, Illustration for Elisee Reclus, 
L'Homme et la terre, 1905, Vol. I, Book 
1, title page. 

fig- 5- 

Kupka, Illustration for Les Erinnyes, 



fig. 6. 

Kupka in his garden at Puteaux, c. 1906. 

fig- 7- 

Kupka, Illustration for Prometheus, 

1908-09, etching. 

5 In a letter to Machar dated March 12, 
1906, Kupka announces his intention 
to move to Puteaux and gives his new 

paint trees when people see more 
beautiful ones on the way to the 
exhibition. I paint only concepts, 

syntheses, chords But this I do . . . 

only for myself. I am not anxious to 
show it . . . ." (April Z4) 
August: holiday in St. Prix where he 
makes studies, erotic drawings, 
watercolors. Some will be used for 
second edition of The Song of Songs 
(cat. no. 15). First one-man exhibition 
organized in Bohemia— about fifty 
oils, one hundred drawings, pastels, 
prints— will travel for two years. 
Great popular success but poor 
critical response. 

July: death of Elisee Reclus. October: 
publication of first five volumes of 
L' Homme et la terre. 


Continues work for last volume of 
U Homme et la terre (to be published 
1908) and begins work on illustra- 
tions for Leconte de Lisle's Les 
Erinnyes. Spring: moves with Nini to 
small house with garden at 7, rue 
Lemaitre in Puteaux, a suburb of 
Paris. 5 Villon and Raymond Du- 
champ-Villon will be his next door 
neighbors. Summer in Theoule in 
south of France with Nini and 

Andree. Exhibits for first time at Paris 
Salon d' Automne showing Autumn 
Sun (cat. no. 17). 


January: visits Louny, Czecho- 
slovakia, with Nini for final showing 
of traveling exhibition. Pleased by 
exhibition's popular success. Spring: 
trip to Prague. Becomes member of 
Salon d 'Automne and shows Project 
for Mural Painting (see fig. p. 46) 


Begins work on illustrations for 
Aeschylus' Prometheus and Aristo- 
phanes' Lysistrata. Begins series of 


Stops working for newspapers to 
concentrate on illustrated books- 
new edition of The Song of Songs; 
Lysistrata and Kropotkin's La 
Grande revolution (the latter never 
published). Inspired by Mallarme's 
poetry, starts working on illustrations 
for a selection of his poems. Writes 
Machar "Here I have only chords and 
this corresponds to my feelings; for 
the other books I need a great deal 
of documentation." (February 5) 


mer Je cell, enpoiillon inniKllc. Ou Jc rcmr,ri)„ n hk. mor-ecu. cBlnyslcnl del asuvrni qui ] que I quel- unci Jc ce. inlsmaUque. pcinluru qui, tclon leg uni. on! torn lei ,\dlr*\ 
nunltnt c«uitr mielquc .urprl.e. Celt pmrml «. dcrnftie. que nom avoni cbniH let Irante, «1nn le. .ulrt. (oulei lea audacei Je 1'nrli.laalUc. J 

%. 8. 

French newspaper Excelsior, October z, 

1912., p. 5- 

However Mallarme's daughter will 
refuse permission to publish them. 
February 20: First Futurist Manifesto, 
published in Le Figaro in Paris, 
makes lasting impression on Kupka. 
Prize from Prague Academy provides 
financial aid and allows him to 
devote more time to painting. Visits 
Onesime Reclus, Elisee's brother, in 
Uccle, Belgium, where he may have 
seen large-scale model of the moon. 


March: finally marries Eugenie. 
Studies biology, physiology, neur- 

May 18: Technical Manifesto of 
Futurist Painting published in French 
in Comoedia IV, no. 961. 
Lives and works in feverish excite- 
ment, destroying much as he pro- 
gresses. Writes to Roessler "Finally 
... I have achieved awareness and I 
stand healthy before myself. The 
moment has come for me to write my 
credo (paint, draw)." (October 6) 

Exhibits The Yellow Scale (cat. no. 
29), Peonies, and two works on 
paper at Salon d'Automne. Begins 
making notes for a treatise on 


Participates in meetings of Puteaux 
group: includes Duchamp-Villon, 
Villon, Gleizes, Metzinger, Picabia, 
Tobeen, La Fresnaye, Le Fauconnier, 
Andre Mare, Leger and sporadically 
Duchamp and Gris. Also Apollinaire 
and critics Allard, Roinard, Olivier- 
Hourcade, Salmon and Raynal; 
mathematician Maurice Princet, 
philosopher Henri-Martin Barzun 
and Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes. 
Meetings on Sundays at Villon's; on 
Mondays at Gleizes' in nearby Cour- 
bevoie. Discussions about Leonardo, 
Cezanne and Seurat, divine propor- 
tions and the golden section, mathe- 
matics, non-Euclidean geometry, 
Bergson, "correspondences" between 
music and painting, the concept and 

6 Despite extensive research, it remains 
impossible to determine whether 
Kupka participated in the Salon de la 
Section d'Or. Although Kupka's name 
does not appear in the catalogue, or in 
any reviews of this exhibition there is 
reason to believe that he may have 
been included in the show. 


The most compelling evidence in 
support of this belief is Nicolas 
Bauduin's article of 1956 (see bibliog- 
raphy), in which the author gives a 
vivid eyewitness account of the exhibi- 
tion. He describes Apollinaire's lecture 
and the clothes he was wearing, the 
walls of the rooms, hung with purple 
silk, and says that it was in front of 
Kupka's three paintings that Apolli- 
naire expounded his Orphic theory of 
abstraction. It seems improbable that 
Bauduin would have concocted this, 
even after forty-four years. Bauduin 
also notes that Kupka made up his 
mind to exhibit only at the last minute, 
when it was too late to include him in 
the catalogue. This is not only con- 
sistent with Kupka's character but 
reflects his reluctance to be identified 
with "Cubists" of any sort. A second 
piece of evidence arguing for his parti- 
cipation is a letter from Eugenie Kupka 
to Alfred Barr (December zz, 1955), 
in which she refers to an unidentified 
painting which had been exhibited at 
the Section d'Or many years before. 
However, one cannot consider this 
vague recollection entirely reliable. 
Finally in Turpin's 193 1 biography of 
the artist (in Edouard-Joseph's Dic- 
tionnaire biographique, see bibliog- 
raphy) the author alludes to Apolli- 
naire's comments before Kupka's paint- 
ings at the Section d'Or. Again, the 
accuracy of this account is somewhat 
questionable since in Kupka's hand- 
written notes for this article (which 
Turpin used almost verbatim) there is 
no mention of the Section d'Or. 

The arguments against Kupka's par- 
ticipation are equally inconclusive. 
Fedit, who owns Kupka's personal 
copy of the catalogue, says that among 
the copious annotations, there is no 
mention of his own inclusion. Marcel 
Duchamp, in a 1961 interview with 
William Camfield on the subject of the 
Section d'Or said that the catalogue 
was correct, as far as he could remem- 
ber, and no exhibitors were excluded. 
However, once again, memories 
spanning almost fifty years are in- 
volved. Finally Kupka's personal notes 
and his own autobiographical essays 
which contain precise references to his 
most important early exhibitions in- 
clude no mention of the Section d'Or. 
Again, however, there is room for ques- 
tion, as Kupka may not have con- 
sidered the paintings sent to the Section 
d'Or important enough to mention. 
(Because of Kupka's habit of changing 
titles, none of these paintings have been 
precisely identified.) 

depiction of motion, color theory and 
the fourth dimension. 
Signac's D'Eugene Delacroix au neo- 
impressionnisme of 1 899 republished 
in August. Apollinaire speaks highly 
of it and Kupka probably read it at 
this time. Concert of Bach fugues 
crystallizes Kupka's thinking that 
painting may be as abstract as music; 
that nature is better rendered by 
cinematography; that painting is spe- 
cifically concerned with lines, planes, 
colors, light and shadow. Begins 
studies for Amorpha, Fugue (cat. no. 
92). Continues making notes for his 
book on his concept of the function 
of painting. Exhibits three works 
from "Gigolettes" series at the Salon 
des htdependants in Spring where 
Cubist painters first show as a group, 
and Planes by Colors (cat. no. 42) and 
Family Portrait (cat. no. 44) at Salon 
d'Automne in the Fall. 


February: First Futurist exhibition in 
Paris, Galerie Bernheim Jeune. 
Continues to work feverishly accord- 
ing to his new ideals. Continues notes 
for his book. Exhibits three paintings 
all called Planes by Colors (cat. nos. 
53, 55, 59) in the Cubist room 
at the Salon des htdependants where 
Duchamp first exhibits Nude De- 
scending a Staircase. Displeased at 
being identified with Cubists. 
Finally at the Salon d'Automne, ex- 
hibits Amorpha, Fugue in Two Colors 
(cat. no. 92) and Amorpha, Warm 
Chromatics (cat. no. 86). Critics are 
disconcerted. Gaumont newsreels 
film the paintings and show them all 
over Europe and America; ask Kupka 
to defend his art and "initiate the 
public" by painting a picture before 
the camera. Kupka declines. With- 
draws from Puteaux group to lead a 
solitary existence. However will 
remain friendly with his neighbors 
Villon and Duchamp-Villon. 
October 10-30, Galerie la Boetie, 
Salon de la Section I'Or. It is unclear 
whether Kupka exhibited. 6 


Continues to develop ideas on non- 
objective art. Does not exhibit at 

Armory Show. Exhibits Vertical 
Planes HI (cat. no. 97) at Salon des 
htdependants in spring; Organization 
of Graphic Motifs I and II (cat. nos. 
105, 106) at Salon d'Automne. Be- 
tween these two exhibitions, in July- 
according to Kupka's personal notes- 
discovers Kandinsky's TJber das 
Geistige in der Kunst through his 
friend the musician Morse-Rummel. 
October 19: The New York Times 
publishes article " 'Orpheism' Latest 
of Painting Cults" emphasizing 
Kupka's role in the development of 
abstract art. "I am still groping in the 
dark," Kupka tells the interviewer 
Warshawsky, "but I believe I can find 
something between sight and hearing 
and I can produce a fugue in colors 
as Bach has done in music." 


At outbreak of World War I, enlists 
as volunteer and fights alongside 
Blaise Cendrars at front at La Somme. 


Evacuated because of illness, partici- 
pates in organization of Czech 
resistance in Paris. Appointed Presi- 
dent of Czech colony; produces 
Czech propaganda posters under 
pseudonym Dalny which he uses 
throughout the war. Gives lectures, 
designs uniforms, medals, postcards, 
stamps, banners; illustrations for 
Czech newspapers. 1917-18 works on 
illustrations for The Song of 

Organizes Czech infantry force which 
will become a regular French army 
regiment. 1918: returns to combat 
under Marechal Foch with rank of 


February: made honorary member of 
Manes Fine Arts Society in Prague. 
April: visit to Prague; discharged 
from army with rank of Captain. 
Meets Jindfich Waldes who will be 
his benefactor and friend until 1936. 
Returns to Paris in September where 
he works a great deal "to make up 
for time lost during the war." (Kupka 
to Waldes, December 9, 1919). Ar- 
rangements made to translate and 


publish manuscript written in French 
before the war. Exhibits A Tale of 
Pistils and Stamens (cat. no. 120) 
and Blue Scaffolding (cat. no. 
125) at Salon d'Automne. 


Corrects Czech translation of his 
book La Creation dans les arts 
plastiques. Visits Chartres often and 
Brittany where he studies Celtic art. 
Works in relative solitude in Puteaux, 
going to Paris infrequently. Waldes 
visits Paris and offers Kupka badly 
needed financial aid. Exhibits 
Animated Lines (cat. no. 135) at Salon 
d'Automne. Meets Felix Del Marie 
and A. P. Gallien around this time. 


Continuing financial difficulties. 
June: first one-man exhibition in 
Paris at Galerie Povolozky. Exhibi- 
tion, which includes much recent 
work, and in particular, a series in 
black and white, is well received. 

July: La Vie des lettres publishes an 
article by Kupka in which he explains 
his reasons for abandoning the object 
in painting. 


Publication of first monograph on 
Kupka, by L. Arnould-Gremilly, in 
France. Summer in Theoule. 
October: invited to Prague by Prague 
Academy to give series of lectures on 
the psychology of the artist. In first 
lecture, attacks all academic training 
upon which contract cancelled. Re- 
mains in Prague until December. 
December: Prague Academy appoints 
him Professor in Paris with full 
professor's salary. Must introduce 
Czech students in Paris to French 


Begins preparing courses which will 
start in March: weekly lectures on 
French art and culture, and excur- 
sions to French museums and monu- 


Kupka, Illustration for The Song of 
Roland (signed P. Regnard), 1917-18; 
published 1919. 

fig. 10. 

Kupka in his garden, Puteaux, c. 1920? 


fig. II. 

Partial installation photograph, Galerie 
la Boetie, Paris, October 16-31, 1914. 

merits (Notre Dame, Chartres, 
Versailles, Fontainebleau, etc.). Ex- 
periments, begun at unknown date, 
with kaleidoscope and microscope. 
Exhibits Lines, Planes, Depths (see 
cat. no. 136) and Gradations at Salon 
des lndependants. The museum in 
Grenoble, the most avant-garde in 
France, expresses interest in his work. 
Summer in Theoule and extensive 
traveling in south of France (Nimes, 
Aries, Avignon). La Creation dans les 
arts plastiques published in Prague. 


In an interview (Paris- Journal, May 
9, 192.4) Picabia says that "Kupka, 
Marcel Duchamp . . . Man Ray" are 
among the painters he most esteems. 
With help of friends, rents Galerie la 
Boetie to mount a retrospective of his 
work held October 16-31. Widely re- 
viewed, both favorably and unfavor- 
ably, in international press. Attends 
lectures at Sorbonne. Manes Society 

in Prague offers Kupka retrospective 
but he feels the space is not appro- 
priate. "These paintings need space 
and much light" writes Nini to 
Waldes (January 31, 1925). Decem- 
ber: visits Bordeaux, the Pyrenees, 


Kupka's friends Del Marie and Gal- 
lien discuss translating Kandinsky's 
Uber das Geistige in der Kunst into 
French; also envisage French edition 
of Kupka's book. Close friendship 
with Gallien during this period. Sum- 
mer in Theoule. Begins preparatory 
gouaches for album of woodcuts, 
many based on motifs developed dur- 
ing preceding years. December: ex- 
hibits with group Vonloir in Lille. 


March: first personal contact with 
van Doesburg. Receives the Croix de 
la Legion d'Honnenr. Summer in 
Brittany. At year's end, publishes 


fig. 12. 

Kupka in his studio, Puteaux, c. 1933. 

woodcut album Quatre histoires de 
blanc et noir (cat. no. 165) at own ex- 
pense. Aided in technical aspects and 
formulation of introductory text by 
Gallien. Publication generally ignored 
and financially disastrous for Kupka. 


Reputation continues to grow slowly 
in Prague. Continuing financial dif- 
ficulties and help from Waldes. Biog- 
raphy published by Siblik in Prague 
in 1928 (French edition, 1929). Begins 
a bust of Nini for Waldes, the only 
sculpture he will ever do. 


January: visits Kandinsky exhibition 
in Paris, finds paintings cold, me- 
chanical; believes that some indica- 
tion of the artist's process should be 
visible. Van Doesburg asks him to 
participate in launching a new art 
magazine. Finishes bust of Nini. 


Spring: visits the Waldes' in Prague 
where he gives lectures and inter- 
views. Visit inspires interest among 
critics, artists. Returns to south of 
France for Summer and Fall. Poor 

health sends him to Corsica until mid- 
December. Stops all painting. Ex- 
tremely nervous and depressed. 


February 15: founding of Abstrac- 
tion-Creation group. Founding mem- 
bers include van Doesburg, Herbin, 
Vantongerloo, Helion, Arp, Gleizes, 
Kupka, Tutundjian, Valmier. Encour- 
aged by confirmation of his ideas on 
abstraction, begins to paint again. 


Turns from machine series to pure 
abstractions. Poor health obliges him 
to spend much time in south of 
France and in Savoie. 


Repaints interior of his house with 
decorative panels in folk-art style 
(see fig. 15). Trip to London with 
Nini, Waldes and his wife. Shows 
with Czech artists at the Jeu de 
Paume and in the Salon des Inde- 
pendants fiftieth anniversary exhibi- 
tion (Vertical Planes and The Form of 
Vermilion). Resigns from Abstrac- 
tion-Creation, but remains in cordial 
contact with group and particularly 


fig. 13. 

Prague, 1935?, Standing 1 to r: Kupka, 
lea Waldes, Jindfich Waldes; Seated: 
Eugenie Kupka. 

fig. 14. 

Kupka at Beaugency, 1944. 

friendly with Herbin and Vantonger- 
loo until the end of his life. 


Improved health. July: visit from 
Alfred Barr in preparation for 1936 
The Museum of Modern Art exhibi- 
tion Cubism and Abstract Art. En- 
couraged by this visit, Kupka begins 
working again. Visits prehistoric 
caves near Alvignac (Lot) during 
summer vacation. Trip to Prague 
over Christmas. 


Exhibits Static Ensemble and Ab- 
stract Painting (cat. no. 173) at Salon 
des Independants. Exhibits Disks of 
Newton (cat. no. 75), Vertical Planes 
(cat. no. 97) and Elementary Games 
of 1 93 1 in Cubism and Abstract Art 
in New York. 

June: large two-man exhibition with 
Alphonse Mucha at Jeu de Paume, 
Paris. Health deteriorates. 


Moves to wife's house in Beaugency 
to rest and restore health during war 
years. Little painting activity. Returns 

to Puteaux in October 1945. Van- 
tongerloo brings Max Bill to visit 
him. Bill much impressed by Kupka's 


June: Marcel Duchamp notifies 
Kupka of Alfred Barr's interest in 
buying works for The Museum of 
Modern Art, New York. 
First Salon des Realites Nouvelles in 
Paris, where Kupka will exhibit reg- 
ularly until his death. 
November-December: major retro- 
spective exhibition at Manes Fine 
Arts Society in Prague to celebrate his 
seventy-fifth birthday. Long visit to 
Prague during which he prepares 
catalogue, hangs show. Exhibition of 
his graphic work mounted by 
Narodni Galerie, Prague. Czech gov- 
ernment purchases about twenty 
major works. 


Signs contract with Louis Carre; sells 
him large number of paintings from 
studio. One-man exhibition at Louis 
Carre Gallery, New York. 


fig. 15. 

Kupka in his dining room, Puteaux, 
1951. Note the decorative panels done 
by the artist in 1934. 


fig. 16. 

Kupka in his studio, 1952. 


General recognition begins around 
this time; long articles in French 


One-man exhibition at Rose Fried 
Gallery, New York. Special exhibi- 
tion of twenty-two works (Jubile 
Kupka) at the Salon des Realties 
Nouvelles, Paris. 


Exhibits for last time at Salon des 
Independartts—Flanes by Colors (cat. 
no. 41) and Disks, 191 1. 


Alfred Barr purchases group of major 
works for The Museum of Modern 

Art, New York. In gratitude, Kupka 
gives the museum a large collection 
of studies and sketches. 


June 24: death in Puteaux. 


Large retrospective exhibition at 
Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Paris (156 works). Creation of a per- 
manent Salle Kupka. 


Eugenie Kupka makes large donation 

to Musee National d'Art Moderne, 


May 23: death of Eugenie Kupka. 




Brno, Frantisek Kupka (cat. text by 
J. V. Stejskal) 
Catalogue not located 

Prague, Klub "Slavia," April 15- 

May 17 

Kupkovy Vystavy [Kupka 


133 works 


Paris, Galerie Povolozky, June 6-20 
Fratifois Kupka: Peintures—Blancs et 
Noirs (cat. text by A. Mercereau) 
3 2 works 


Paris, Galerie la Boetie, October 


Exposition des oeuvres de F. Kupka 

(cat. text by F. Kupka) 

101 works 


Paris, Musee des Ecoles Etrangeres 

Contemporaines, Jeu de Paume des 

Tuileries, June 

F. Kupka-A. Mucha (Kupka cat. text 

by G. Kahn) 

95 works by Kupka 


Prague, Narodnf Galerie, September 

17-November 17 

Kresby A Grafika Frantiska Kupky 

[Drawings and Prints by Frantisek 

Kupka] (cat. text by J. Loris) 

77 works 

Prague, Galerie S.V.U. Manes, 
November 14-December 8 
Frantisek Kupka (cat. text by 
213 works 


New York, Louis Carre Gallery, 
May 7-June 2 

Kupka (cat. text by J. Cassou) 
16 oils 


New York, Rose Fried Gallery, 

February 23-March 21 

Kupka (checklist) 

10 oils 

Paris, Musee des Beaux Arts de la 

Ville de Paris, VIII Salon des Realites 

Nouvelles: Jubile Kupka 

22 works 

Catalogue not located 


Paris, Musee National d'Art 

Moderne, May 27-July 13 

Kupka (cat. texts by J. Cassou, F. 


72 oils, 4 gouaches 


Paris, Galerie Karl Flinker, May 24- 
June 30 

Kupka: Gouaches, Aquarelles, Pastels 
(cat. texts by M. Brion, G. Habasque) 

5 oils, 49 watercolors and gouaches, 

6 pastels 


New York, Royal S. Marks Gallery, 
January n-February 18 
Kupka: Paintings, Pastels and 
Gouaches 1909-1923 (cat. text by 
Y. Hagen) 
30 works 

Zurich, Galerie Charles Lienhard, 


Frank Kupka (cat. texts by J. Cassou, 

F. Kupka, H. Neuburg) 

40 gouaches, 5 pastels, 2 oils 

Pisek, Czechoslovakia, Vlastivedne 
Museum, October-November 1961. 

Traveled to Ceske Budejovice, Czech- 
oslovakia, Dum umeni, January- ■ 
February 1962 

Kupka 1871-1957 (cat. texts by J. 
Kfi'z, L. Vachtova) 
30 oils, 105 works on paper 


New York, Saidenberg Gallery, 
February 13-March 10 
Kupka: pastels, gouaches, water- 
colors (checklist) 

10 gouaches, n watercolors, 5 pas- 
tels, 4 watercolor and gouaches 


Paris, Galerie Louis Carre, May 21- 


Kupka: peintures 19 10-1946 (cata- 
logue; checklist) 
22 works 

Paris, Galerie Karl Flinker, May 26- 
June 30 

Kupka: pastels et gouaches lyoG- 
1945 (cat. text by D. Fedit; checklist) 
57 gouaches, 23 pastels, 18 woodcuts, 
8 oils 

New York, Royal S. Marks Gallery, 
September 21-October 24 
Kupka (checklist) 
13 oils, 3 gouaches, 1 pastel 

London, Gimpel Fils, September- 

Kupka Gouaches 1904-1945 (cat. 
texts by D. Fedit, C. Gimpel) 
27 gouaches 


Prague, Galerie Karlovo Namesti, 

May- June 

Frantisek Kupka-obrazy, kresby, 

grafika [Frantisek Kupka-Paintings, 

Drawings, Graphics] (cat. text by 

L. Vachtova) 

29 works 


Usti nad Orlici, Frantisek Kupka 
cat. text by J. Pecirka) 
Catalogue not located 

Milan and Rome, Galleria del 

Levante, April-May 

Kupka (cat. text by G. Veronesi) 

28 works on paper, 2 oils 

London, Gimpel Fils, November 2-27 

Kupka: The Centre Period 1899- 

1908 (cat. text by S. Williams) 

35 works on paper 


London, Redfern Gallery, March 


Kupka (checklist) 

24 works on paper 

Paris, Galerie Karl Flinker, March 

18-April 23 

Kupka avant 1914 (cat. text by D. 


9 oils, 44 gouaches, pastels and 


Hanover, Kestner Gesellschaft, July 

13-September 18 

Frank Kupka (cat. text by W. 


53 works on paper 


Stockholm, Galerie Aronowitsch, 
October 28-November 15 
Frank Kupka 1871-1957 (cat. text by 
W. Aronowitsch) 
17 gouaches, 2 drawings, 1 water- 


Cologne, Kolnischer Kunstverein, 

April 15-June 25, 1967 

Frank Kupka 1871-1957 (cat. texts 

by A. Becker, B. Dorival, T. 


no oils and works on paper 

Traveled to 

Munich, Stadtische Galerie im Len- 

bachhaus, September 23-October 

22, 1967 (cat. text by B. Dorival) 

no oils and works on paper 

Vienna, Museum des 20. Jahrhun- 

derts, November 4-December 17, 

1967 (cat. text by B. Dorival, W. 


107 oils and works on paper 

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, 
January n-February 25, 1968 
(cat. text unsigned) 
104 oils and works on paper 

Prague, Narodni Galerie, March 20- 
April 20, 1968 (cat. texts by L. 
Vachtova, J. Kotalik, B. Dorival) 
322 oils and works on paper 


New York, Spencer A. Samuels and 
Company, Ltd., March-April 
Frank Kupka (cat. texts by A. H. 
Barr, Jr., N. Schwartz) 
17 oils, 43 works on paper 


New York, Gertrude Stein Gallery 

Belgrade, Salon Muzeja savremene 
umetnosti, June 12-July 20 
Frantisek Kupka (cat. texts by J. 
Kotalik, M. B. Protic) 
107 works 


Paris, Grand Palais, April 20-June 30, 
Societe 'Rationale des Beaux- Arts 
Xl!e exposition 

Vienna, Hagenbund 
Catalogue not located 


St. Louis, The Louisiana Purchase 
Exposition Company, Universal 


Paris, Grand Palais, October 6-N0- 
vember 15, Salon d' Automne: ^me 


Vienna, Kunstschau, May-October, 
Gebaude der Secession 


Paris, Grand Palais, October 1-N0- 
vember 8, Salon d' Automne: 8me 

191 1 

Paris, Grand Palais, October 1-N0- 
vember 8, Salon d' Automne: 9me 


Paris, Quai d'Orsay, March 20-May 
16, Artistes Independants z8e exposi- 
tion: Salon des Independants 

Paris, Grand Palais, October 1-N0- 
vember 8, Salon d' Automne: lome 

Paris, Galerie la Boetie, October 
10-30, Salon de la Section d'Or (?) 


Paris, Quai d'Orsay, March 19-May 
18, Salon des Independants (z9e 

Paris, Grand Palais, November 15, 
1913-January 5, 1914, Salon d' Au- 
tomne: nine exposition 


Paris, Grand Palais, November 1- 
December 10, Salon d' Automne 


Paris, Grand Palais, October 15- 
December 12, Salon d' Automne 


Lille, Au Conservatoire, December 
19-27, Vouloir 


Paris, Grand Palais, February 20- 
March 21, Societe des Artistes 
Independants: trente ans d'art inde- 
pendant, 1884-1914 

Paris, Quai d'Orsay, March 20-May 
2, Salon des Independants (37c 


Paris, October, Expositions selectes 
d'art contemporain (ESAC) 
Catalogue not located 

J 934 

Paris, Quai d'Orsay, February 2- 

March 11, exposition; Salon des 



Paris, Quai d'Orsay, February 7- 
March 8, Salon des Independants 

New York, The Museum of Art, 
March 2-April 19, Cubism and Ab- 
stract Art 



Paris, Musee du Jeu de Paume, July 

30-October 31, Origines et de- 

veloppement de I' Art international 



Prague, Galerie SVU Manes 
Catalogue not located 


Paris, Musee des Beaux-Arts de la 
Ville de Paris, July-August, Salon des 
Realites Nonvelles (lie exposition) 


Paris, Musee des Beaux-Arts de la 
Ville de Paris, Salon des Realites 
Nouvelles (llle exposition) 


Sao Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, 
March 8-30, Do Figurativismo ao 
Abstracionismo. Traveled to Buenos 
Aires, Instituto de Arte Moderno 
Catalogue not located 

Art Institute of Chicago, October 20- 
December 18, Arensberg Collection 

Paris, Galerie Maeght, April 29- 
June 3, U 'Art abstrait: ses origines, 
ses premiers maitres, I, Les Rechercbes 
preliminaires; II, L'Epanonissement 
de I' art abstrait 

Paris, Musee des Beaux-Arts de la 
Ville de Paris, July 22- August 30, 
Salon des Realites Nouvelles (lVe 


Prague, The School of Fine Arts, 

Vystava professoru a zaku AVU 

[Exhibition of Professors and 


Catalogue not located 

Paris, Musee des Beaux-Arts de la 
Ville de Paris, June 10-July 15, Salon 
des Realites Nouvelles 


New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, May 6-June 8, Recent 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, November 25, 1952-September 
13, 1954: Paintings, Sculpture and 

Graphic Art from the Museum 


Vienna, Galerie Wurthle, May-June, 
Leger, Gromaire, Villon, Kupka 
Catalogue not located 

Turin, Palazzo Belle Arti, September- 
October, Pittori d'oggi Francia-ltalia 


Paris, Quai d'Orsay, April 14-May 9, 

Salon des lndependants 

Paris, Musee des Beaux-Arts de la 
Ville de Paris, July 8-August 8, Salon 
des Realites Nouvelles 

Philadelphia Museum of Art, 
October 16, The Louise and Walter 
Arensberg Collection. Opening of 
permanent installation of Arensberg 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, October 19, 1954-February 6, 
1955, XXVth Anniversary Exhibi- 
tions: Paintings 


Paris, Musee Galliera, January 21- 

February 28, Regards sur la peinture 


Lausanne, Musee Cantonal des 
Beaux-Arts, June 24-September 26, 
Le Mouvement dans I' art 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, October 5, 1955-November 8, 
1957, Painting, Sculpture and 
Graphic Arts from the Museum 


Birmingham; London, Tate Gallery, 
Autour du Cubism 
Catalogue not located 

Lille, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lille, 
Peinture contemporaine 
Catalogue not located 

Newark Museum Association, April 
2-June 10, Abstract Art from 1910 to 


Saint Etienne, Musee d'Art et 
d'Industrie, Art abstrait: les pre- 
mieres generations (1910-1939) 

London, Royal Society of British 
Artists, Arts Council of Great Britain, 
April 13-May 18, An Exhibition of 
Painting from The Musee National 
d'Art Moderne 

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, July 
8-September 30, Europa 1907 

Sao Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, 
September-December, IV Bienal do 
Museu de Arte Moderna 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, November 13, 1957-January 5, 

1958, Recent Acquisitions 


Paris, Salon des Comparaisons 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, March 23 -April 7, Paintitigs, 
Sculptures and Graphic Arts from 
the Museum Collection 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, October 6, 1958-October 25, 

1959, second floor galleries 


Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia, travel- 
ing exhibition 
Catalogue not located 

Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, 
August 21-September 20, Master- 
pieces of Czech Art. Traveled to 
Leeds, City Art Gallery, October 4- 
November 1 

Liberec, Czechoslovakia, Krajesa 
galerie Liberec. Traveled to Prague. 
Catalogue not located 

New York, Rose Fried Gallery, Octo- 
ber 26-November 30, Twenty-four 
Modern Masters 


New York, Galerie Chalette, March 
31-June 4, Construction and Geom- 
etry in Painting: From Malevitch to 
"Tomorrow." Traveled to Cincin- 
nati, Contemporary Art Center, July 
5-October 9; Arts Club of Chicago, 
November 1 i-December 30; Minne- 
apolis, Walker Art Center, January 
14-February, 1961 

Cleveland Museum of Art, October 
5-November 13, Paths of Abstract Art 

Paris, Musee National d'Art 
Moderne, November 4, 1960-January 


3, 1961, Les Sources du XXe siecle: 
les arts en Europe de 1884 a 1914 

New York, Rose Fried Gallery, 
November 8-December, Modem 


New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, February 7-April 16, 
Paintings from the Arensberg and 
Gallatin Collections of the Philadel- 
phia Museum of Art 

Rennes, Musee des Beaux-Arts, 


Catalogue not located 


Dobruska, Czechoslovakia, Vlasti- 

vedne Muzeum 

Catalogue not located 

Vienna, Museum des 20. Jahr- 
hunderts, September 21-November 4, 
Kunst von 1900 bis heute 


Grenoble, Musee de Peinture et de 
Sculpture, June 19-August 31, Albert 
Gleizes et tempete dans les salons: 

New York, Royal S. Marks Gallery, 
November 25-December 21, Much 
has Happened, 1910-1959: Key 

Washington, D.C., National Gallery 
of Art, December 16, 1963-March 1, 

1964, Paintings from The Museum of 
Modem Art, New York 


New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, 
February 4-29, The Classic Spirit in 
the 20th Century 

Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, May-June, 
L'Espressionismo: Pittura, Scultura, 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, May 27, 1964-September 29, 

1965, Painting and Sculpture from the 
Museum Collections 


Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Mu- 
seum, Un Seculo de Pintura Francesa 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, June 8 -December 3, Painting 
and Sculpture from the Museum 

New York, M. Knoedler &c Co., Inc., 
October 12-November 6, Synchron- 
ism and Color principles in American 
Painting: 1910-1930 

Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, 
October 20-December 8, The Heroic 
Years: Paris 1908-19 14 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, December 3-29, Painting and 
Sculpture from the Museum 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, December 29, 1965-June 6, 1966, 
Painting and Sculpture from the 
Museum Collection 


New York, Public Education Associa- 
tion, shown at M. Knoedler &C Co., 
Inc., April 26-May 21, Seven Decades 
of Modern Art 

Hluboke, Czechoslovakia, Alsova 
Jihoceska Galerie, May-October 
1966, Ceskd Secese Umeni 1900. 
Traveled to Brno, Moraveska Galerie, 
December 1966-January 1967 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, June 23-October 23, 
Gauguin and the Decorative Style 

Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Summer 
1966, Paintings from the Collection 
of Joseph H. Hazen. Traveled to 
Cambridge, Fogg Art Museum, 
Harvard University, October 19-De- 
cember 1, 1967 

Los Angeles, The Art Galleries, Uni- 
versity of California at Los Angeles, 
January-February 1967 
Berkeley, University Art Museum, 
University of California, February 21- 
March 19, 1967 

Museum of Fine Arts at Houston, 
April-May 1967 

Honolulu Academy of Arts, June- 
August 1967 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, June 6, 1966-April 22, 1969, 
Painting and Sculpture from the 
Museum Collections 


New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, May 4-June 25, Selec- 
tions from the Museum Collections 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, June 28-October 1, 
Museum Collection; Seven Decades, 
A Selection 

London, Tate Gallery, September 15- 
October 27, Cubist Art from Czecho- 

Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 
November 10-December 27, 1967, he 
Cubisme a Prague et la collection 
Kramdr. Traveled to Rotterdam, 
Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, 
January 10-March 3, 1968 


New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, March 14-May 20, Painting and 
Sculpture from the Museum Collec- 


New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, April 23, 1969-December 14, 
1972, Painting and Sculpture from the 
Museum Collections 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, April 25-May n, 
European Paintings from the Museum 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, May 15-November 4, Painting 
and Sculpture from the Museum 

Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte 
Moderna, May 17-June 15, Arte 
Contemporanea in Cecoslovacchia 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, July 8-September 14, 
Selected Sculpture and Works on 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, September 16-Octo- 
ber 12, Collection: From the Turn of 
the Century to 19 14 

Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, 
November 1-26, The Sacred and 
Profane in Symbolist Art 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, November 5, 1969-November 8, 


1972-5 Painting and Sculpture from the 
Museum Collections 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, December 13, 1969- 
January 18, 1970, Collection: From 
the First to the Second Word War 

Krefeld, Galerie Denise Rene-Hans 
Meyer, Masterpieces of Modern Art 
Catalogue not located 


The Cleveland Museum of Art, Janu- 
ary 28-February 22, Year in Kevieiv 
for 1969 

Munich, Haus der Kunst, March 7- 
May 10, L'Expressionnisme europeen. 
Traveled to Paris, Musee National 
d'Art Moderne, May 26- July 27 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, May i-September 13, 
Selections from the Guggenheim 
Museum Collection: 1900-1970 

Geneva, Musee Rath, May 26-June 
28, Art tcheque du XXe siecle. 
Traveled to Kunsthaus Zurich, 
August 22-September 27, 
Tschechische Kunst des 20. ]ahr- 

Buffalo, The Albright-Knox Art 
Gallery, September 15-November 1, 
1970, Color and Field 1890-1970. 
Traveled to The Dayton Art Institute, 
November 20, 1970- January 10, 
1971 ; The Cleveland Museum of Art, 
February 4-March 28, 1971 


Turin, Galleria Civica dArte 

Moderna, March 18-May 9, 7/ 
Cavaliere Azzurro: Der blaue Reiter 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, June 11-September 
12, Selections from the Museum 
Collection and Recent Acquisitions, 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, July 28-November 1, Ways of 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, November 15-December 9, 
Fainting and Sculpture from the 
Museum Collections 

San Diego, Fine Arts Gallery, No- 
vember 20, 1971-January 2, 1972, 
Color and Form 1909-1914. Traveled 
to The Oakland Museum, January 
25-March 5, 1972; Seattle Art 
Museum, March 24-May 7, 1972 


Musee de la Ville de Strasbourg, 
May 15-September 15, Occident- 
Orient: I' art moderne et I' art 

Venice, Museo Civico Correr, Alia 
Napoleonica, June n-October 1, 
"Capolavori della pittura del XX 
secolo (1900-1945)," 36 Biennaledi 
Venezia: Esposizione internazionale 

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, October 
7-November 19, Geometric Abstrac- 
tion: 1926-1942 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, October 18, 1972-January 7, 
1973, Philadelphia in New York: 90 
Modern Works from the Philadelphia 
Museum of Art 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, December 7, 1972- 
February 22, 1973, Collection 

New York, The Museum of Modern 
Art, December 15, 1972-March 12, 
1973, second floor galleries 


London, Annely Juda Fine Art Ltd., 
July 5-September 22, The Non- 
Objective World 1914-195 5. Traveled 
to University Art Museum, University 
of Texas at Austin, October 14- 
December 15 

New York, The Solomon R. Guggen- 
heim Museum, August 9-September 
3, Selections from the Guggenheim 
Museum Collection and Recent 

Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall 
August 23-September 30, Tjeckiskt 
avantgarde 1900-1939. Traveled to 
Goteborgs Konstmuseum, October 
20-November 18 

Milan, Palazzo Reale, December 
1973-February 1974, Boccioni e il suo 


Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute Mu- 
seum of Art, October 26, 1974- 
January 5, 1975, Celebration 


Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 
April 12-June 29, A Decade of Col- 
lecting, 1965-1975: Tenth Anniver- 
sary Exhibition 



f works not located 

By the artist 


This list includes all bibliophile edi- 
tions illustrated by Kupka and the 
monumental work L'Homme et la 
terre. Miscellaneous illustrations for 
Czech authors are not listed. 

Reclus, Elisee, L'Homme et la terre, 
Paris, Librairie Universelle, vols. I-V, 
1905; vol. VI, 1908 
(prepared c. 1904-08) 

Le Cantique des cantiques, French 
translation and introduction by Jean 
de Bonnefon, Paris, Librairie Univer- 
selle, 1905 (prepared 1903-05); Paris, 
Librairie Universelle, 1928 (prepared 
1905-09); Paris, G. Kadar, 1931 

Leconte de Lisle, Les Erinnyes, Paris, 
P. Romagnol, 1908 
(prepared 1906-07) 

Aristophanes, Lysistrata, French 
translation by Dhuys, Paris, A. 
Blaizot, 191 1 
(prepared 1908-10) 

Aeschylus, Prometheus, French trans- 
lation by Dhuys, Paris, A. Blaizot, 
(prepared 1908-10) 

Herold, Ferdinand, La Guirlande 
d' Aphrodite, Paris, H. Piazza, 1918 
(prepared 1917; signed Paul Regnard) 

Bedier, La Chanson de Roland, Paris, 

H. Piazza, 1919 

(prepared 1917; signed Paul Regnard) 

Kupka, Frantisek, Quatre histoires de 
blanc et noir, Paris, G. Kadar, 1926 
(prepared 1925-26) 

Kupka, Frantisek, Abstrakce Kreslil, 
introduction by J. Loris, Prague, 
Zikes, 1948 
(prepared 1930-32) 


f["Credo sous un arbre jamais 
taille"], Meister der Farbe, V, Leipzig, 
1913. German translation 

"(-"Initiative officielle," Bulletin artisti- 
que, July 15, 1920 

"Creer! Question de principe dans la 
peinture," La Vie des lettres et des 
arts, Paris, July 1921, pp. 569-575 

Tvoreni v umeni vytvarnem, Prague, 

"Raisons de l'evasion," Preface to ex- 
hibition catalogue, Galerie la Boetie, 
Exposition des Oeuvres de F. Kupka, 
Paris, 1924 [Reprinted in Realites 
Nouvelles, no. 7, July 1953, p. 5] 

Untitled preface, M. Baquet ed., 
Album "Quatre histoires de blanc et 
noir," 1926 

"Reponse a l'enquete sur la strategie," 
in Georges Turpin, La strategie ar- 
tistique, Paris, 1929, pp. 163-164 

Untitled text, Abstraction, creation, 
art non-figuratif, Paris, vol. 1, 1932 
p. 23 

Untitled text, Abstraction, creation, 
art non-figuratif, Paris, vol. 2, 1933, 
p. 25 

Untitled text, Abstraction, creation, 
art non-figuratif, Paris, vol. 3, 1934, 
p. 28 [reprinted in Abstraction, 
creation, art non-figuratif, vols. 1-5, 
1932-36, New York, 1968, complete 
in one volume] 

fRationnalisme en peinture," 
Koh-i-Noor , Prague, no. 41, May 
1933, P- 15 

f'Frantisek Kupka v Praze" and 
editor's preface, Svetozor, Prague, 
1934 [Reprinted with French transla- 
tion as "Kupka o sobe" ("Kupka par 
luimeme"), Vytvarne Umeni, Prague, 
no. 7, 1968, p. 352] 

Untitled text, Realites Nouvelles, 
Paris, no. 1, 1947, p. 45 

Untitled text, Realites Nouvelles, 
Paris, no. 4, 1950, p. 7 


fUrban, B. S., "Kupkuv Orphismus," 
Cesta, Prague, no. 16, January 28, 

fSisova, M., "U. Fr. Kupka," 
Ndrodni Listy, Prague, May 2, 1929 

Jira, Jaroslav, "Z hovonis Fran- 
tiskem Kupkou," [Conversations 
with Frantisek Kupka] Literdrni 
Rozhledy, Prague, vol. XV, no. n, 
October-November, 1931, pp. 354- 

fMassat, Rene, "Visite d'atelier de 
Frank Kupka," Le Progres, Paris, 
August 19, 1950 

On the artist 


Amould-Gremilly, Louis, Frank 
Kupka, Paris, 1922 
(First published as: "De POrphisme 
a propos des tentatives de Kupka," 
La Vie des lettres, Paris, 1921) 

Cassou, Jean and Fedit, Denise, 
Kupka, Paris, 1964 

Fedit, Denise, L'Oeuvre de Kupka, 
Paris, 1966 

Siblik, Emmanuel, Frantisek Kupka, 
Prague, 1928 (in Czech); Prague, 
1929 (in French) 

Vachtova, Ludmila, Frank Kupka, 
Pioneer of Abstract Art, New York 
and Toronto, 1968. (Translated from 
Czech, Frantisek Kupka, Prague, 
1968, by Zdenek Lederer.) 


fMachar, J. S., "Kupka," Rude 
kvety, Prague, V, 1905 


Deverin, Edouard, "Francois 
Kupka," L 'Art decoratif, ne annee, 
ze semestre, tome XXI, July 1909, 
pp. 3-14 

Weiner, Richard, "Navstevou u 
noveho Frantiska Kupky," Samo- 
statnost, Prague, August 8, 19 12 
Reprinted in Vytvarne Umeni, vol. 
XV, no. 8, Prague, 1968, pp. 367-371) 

Warshawsky, W., "Orpheism, Latest 
of Painting Cults," The New York 
Times, New York, vol. LXIII, no. 20, 
357, part 3, October 19, 1913, p. 4 

Gybal, A., "Frank Kupka," Les 
Hommes du jour, June 1921, pp. 

Arnould-Gremilly, Louis, "De 
l'Orphisme a propos des tentatives 
de Kupka," La Vie des lettres, 
October 1921, pp. 670-686 
fArnould-Gremilly, Louis, "Orfismus 
a pokusy Fr. Kupky," Veraikon, 
Prague, IX, 1923 

Solari, Emile, "Les Arts," he Pro- 
vencal de Paris, ue annee, 2e serie, 
no. 511, November 2, 1924, p. 1 

Chiselle, Lucien, "Le peintre F. 
Kupka," Idees, deuxieme annee, no. 
12, November-December 1924, n.p. 

fGallien, A. P., "Le Prince du reve," 
Gazette des Alpes, December 1924 

Del Marie, Felix, "Numero special 
consacre a Franck Kupka," Voidoir, 
Lille, no. 12, June 1925 

Bataille, Maurice, "Quatre peintres 
constructeurs," Voidoir, Lille, no. 16, 
December 1925 

tjira, Jaroslav, "F. Kupka," Kulturni 
Zpravodaj, Prague, no. 5, 1927 

fArnould-Gremilly, Louis, "A propos 
de 'Quatre histoires de blanc et noir,' 
par Frank Kupka," Signaux, Feb- 
ruary-March 1928 

van Doesburg, Theo, "Franche 
Schilderkunst," De Groesse Amster- 
dammer, November 30, 1929 

f Siblik, Emmanuel, "Malfr Fr. 
Kupka," Aventinum, Prague, May 8, 

fMatejcek, Antonin, "Prometheus 
Frantiska Kupky," Umeni, Prague, 
III, 1930 

tSiblik, Emmanuel, "Frantisek 
Kupka," Hollar, Prague, vol. 7, no. 2, 
1930-1931, pp. 45-56 

tjira, Jaroslav, ["Frant. Kupka as 
Artist and as Man,"] Ndrodni Osvo- 
bozeni, Prague, no. 261, 193 1 

f Podesva, E., "Frantisek Kupka," 
Salon 6, Prague, 193 1 

Turpin, Georges, "Kupka," in 
Edouard -Joseph, Rene, ed., Diction- 
naire biographique des artistes 
contemporains, 1910-1930, Paris, 
vol. II, 1931, pp. 284-288. 

fMatejcek, Antonin, K sedesatinam 
Frantiska Kupky," Umeni, Prague, 
V, 1932 

Bill, Max, "Frank Kupka: zum 75. 
Geburtstag," Werk, Winterthur, 33. 
Jahrgang, Heft 9, September 1946, 
pp. 106-107 

Degand, Leon, "Kupka," Art d'au- 
jourd'hui, Paris, serie 3, numero 
double 3 et 4, February-March 1952, 
pp. 54-58 

Van Gindertael, Roger, "Pour aider 
a rrrieux comprendre 'Le Passage de 
la ligne': Documents reunis parR. V. 
Gindertael," Art d'aujourd'hui, Paris, 
serie 3, numero 6, August 1952, 
pp. 18-19 

Mellquist, Jerome, "Kupka," Vogue, 
New York, November 15, 1952, 
pp. 112-113 

Massat, Rene, untitled text, Realites 
nouvelles, Paris, no. 7, July 1953, p. 4 

Sibert, C. H., "Jubile Francois 
Kupka," Arts, spectacles, Paris, no. 
420, July 17-23, 1953 

Bonnefoi, Genevieve, "Frank Kupka: 
Precurseur et solitaire," Les Lettres 
nouvelles, Paris, April 1954, pp. 

Lassaigne, Jacques, "Kupka," Revue 
de la pensee francaise, 13 annee, no. 
6, June 1954 

Bauduin, Nicolas, "Les temps hero'i- 
ques, a propos du Salon de la Section 
d'Or," Masques et Visages, no. 39, 
June 1956, pp. 6-7 
(Reprinted in Rolet, May 25, 1957) 

Vachtova, Ludmila, "Frantisek 
Kupka," Tvar, Prague, no. 6-7, 1956, 
pp. 216-217 

Lonngren, Lillian, "Kupka: Innova- 
tor of the Abstract International 
Style," Art News, New York, vol. 56, 
no. 7, November 1957, pp. 44-47, 

Cassou, Jean, "L'Oeuvre de Kupka," 
La Revue des Arts, Paris, 8e annee, . 
no. 6, 1958, pp. 285-287 

Chipp, Herschel B., "Orphism and 
Color Theory," Art Bulletin, New 
York, vol. XL, no. 1, March 1958, 
pp. 55-63 

Descargues, Pierre, "100 Kupka au 
Musee d'Art Moderne," Les Lettres 
francaises, May 29, 1958, p. 11 

f Van Gindertael, Roger, "Kupka," 
Les Beaux-Arts, Brussels, June 6, 

f Grenier, Jean, "Kupka et Part ab- 
strait," Preuves, August 1958 

fArnould-Gremilly, Louis, "Kupka, 
l'orphisme et Part abstrait," Combat, 
Paris, no. 6, October 1958 

Ragon, Michel, "Rehabilitation de 
Kupka," Cimaise, Paris, 6e serie, no. 
1, October-November 1958 

Veronesi, Guilia, "Frank Kupka," 
Art actuel international, Paris, no. 5, 
1958, p-4 

Boullier, Rene, "Frank Kupka," 
Chroniques du jour, Paris, nouvelle 
serie, XXIe annee, no. 13, Noel 1959 

"L'origine du mot 'tachisme' revient 
a Franck Kupka," Art actuel inter- 
national, Paris, 1959 

Habasque, Guy, "Kupka, trois ans 
apres sa mort, la celebrite," Con- 
naissance des arts, Paris, no. 101, 
July i960, pp. 30-37 

Cassou, Jean, "Kupka: a l'origine de 
la peinture non-figurative," La Revue 
des voyages, Paris, no. 38, Autumn 
i960, pp. 24-28 

Vachtova, Ludmila, "Frantisek 
Kupka," Kulturne politicky kalenddr, 
Prague, 1961, pp. 258-259 


fSmejkal, F., "Vystava Frantiska 

Kupky," Vytvarnd prdce 14, Prague, 


Petrova, Eva, "Vyvojove etapy dila 

Frantiska Kupky," Umeni, Prague, 

no. 6, annee X, November 1962, 

pp. 597-601 

Vachtova, Ludmila, "Kupka," Dejiny 
a soucasnost, Prague, vol. V, no. 8, 
1963, pp. 22.-29 

Fedit, Denise, "Formation de Part de 
Kupka," La Revue du Louvre, Paris, 
14c annee, no. 6, 1964, pp. 333-342 

Vachtova, Ludmila, "La Parabola di 
Kupka," L'Europa Letteraria, Rome, 
vol. V, no. 29, May 1964 

Guichard-Meili, Jean, "Kupka se 
libere dans ses pastels," Arts, Lettres, 
Spectacles, Musique, Paris, no. 966, 
June 10-16, 1964, p. 11 

"Bright Orpheus," Time, vol. 84, no. 
5,NewYork,July3i, 1964, pp. 36-37 

Fedit, Denise, "Les Gouaches de 
Kupka," Quadrum, Brussels, vol. 
XVI, 1964, pp. 27-34 

Cassou, Jean, "Kupka," Studio Inter- 
national, London, vol. 170, no. 868, 
August 1965, pp. 70-73 

Vachtova, Ludmila, "Kupkovy 
osudy," Vytvarne umeni Prague, vol. 
XV, no. 8, 1965, pp. 372-379 

JMiler, K., "Kupka v Praze," 
Vytvarnd prdce Prague, br. 12/ XIII, 

fSpies, Werner, "Die Biichse der Pan- 
dora. Der Maler Frank Kupka in 
neuer Sicht, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 
May 3, 1966 

Czagan, Friedrich, "Frank Kupka 
und die tschechische Avantgarde," 
Werk, Winterthur, 53. Jg., no. 7, 
July 1966, pp. 273-280 

"Nouvelles de l'A.I.C.A.: le colloque 
Kupka," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 
Paris, vol. 72, nos. 1 194/95/96, 
Supplement, July-September 1968, 
pp. 26-27 

Kriz, Jan, "Frantisek Kupka a pojem 
ceskeho umeni," Vytvarne umeni, 
Prague, vol. XVIII, no. 7, 1968, pp. 
354-356. Includes French translation 
"Frantisek Kupka et la notion de Part 


Solier, Rene de, "Prostor a barva u 
Kupky," Vytvarne umini, Prague, 
vol. XVIII, no. 7, 1968, pp. 348-349. 
Includes French translation 
"L'Espace et la couleur chez Kupka" 

Vachtova, Ludmila, "Kolokvium o 
Frantisku Kupkovi," Vytvarne 
umeni, Prague, vol. XVIII, no. 7, 
1968, p. 338-339. Includes French 
translation "Colloque de Frantisek 

Berger, Rene, "Polarita Kupkovy 
tvorby," Vytvarne umeni, Prague, 
vol. XVIII, no. 7, 1968, pp. 349-350. 
Includes French translation "Polarite 
de l'oeuvre de Kupka" 

"Trying to see in the abstract," The 
Times Literary Supplement, London, 
May 8, 1969. [Review of Ludmila 
Vachtova, Frank Kupka] 

Henning, Edward B., "Frank Kupka: 
Amorpha, Fugue for Two Colors II," 
The Bulletin of the Cleveland Mu- 
seum of Art, Cleveland, vol. LVII, 
no. 4, April 1970, pp. 106-111 

Vachtova, Ludmila, "Kupka 1871- 
1971," Art International, Lugano, 
vol. XVI, no. 5, May 20, 1972, pp. 


Thieme, Ulrich and Becker, Felix, 
Das Allgemeine Lexikon der bilden- 
den Kuenstler, XXII, Leipzig, 1928 

Barr, Alfred PL, Jr., Cubism and Ab- 
stract Art, New York, 1936 

Nebesky, J. V., L' Art moderne 
tchecoslovaque, Paris, 1937 

Seuphor, Michel, L' Art abstrait, ses 
origines, ses premiers maitres, Paris, 
1949 and 1950 

Raynal, Maurice; Lassaigne, Jacques; 
Schmalenbach, Werner; Riidlinger, 
Arnold; Bolliger, Hans, History of 
Modern Painting, Vol. Ill, From 
Picasso to Surrealism, Geneva, 1949- 
1950, pp. 90, 121. English translation 
by Douglas Cooper 

Cogniat, Raymond and Maillard, 
Robert, eds., LAfssaigne], J[acques], 
"Kupka," Dictionnaire de la peinture 
moderne, Paris, 1954, pp. 143-144 

\Knaurs Lexikon moderner Malerei, 
1955 and 1957 

Vollmer, Hans, ed., Allgemeines 
Lexikon der bildenden Kiinstler des 
XX. Jahrhunderts, Vol. Ill, Leipzig, 
1956, p. 141 

Dorival, Bernard, Les peintres du 
XX e siecle, Paris, 1957 [Twentieth 
Century Painters, New York, 1958. 
English translation by W. J. Strachan 
and A. Rossi] 

Seuphor, Michel, Dictionnaire de la 
peinture abstraite, Paris, 1957 [Dic- 
tionary of Abstract Painting, New 
York, 1957. English translation by L. 
Izod, J. Montague, F. Scarfe] 

Dorival, Bernard, L'Ecole de Paris au 
Musee National d! Art Moderne, 
Paris, 1961 [The School of Paris in 
The Musee National d' Art Moderne, 
New York, 1962. English translation 
by C. Brookfield and E. Hart] 

Cassou, Jean; Langui, Emile; Pevsner, 
Nikolaus, Les Sources du vingtieme 
siecle, Paris, 1961 

Cabanne, Pierre, L'Epopee du cu- 
bisme, Paris, 1963 

Maillard, Robert, ed., Lassaigne, 
Jacques, "Kupka," Dictionnaire uni- 
versel de I' art et des artistes, Tome 2, 
Paris, 1967, pp. 338-339 

Hofmann, Werner, Turning Points in 
Twentieth Century Art, 1890-191J, 
New York, c. 1969. English transla- 
tion by C. Kessler 

Seuphor, Michel, L'art abstrait, 1910- 
1918, Origines et Premiers maitres, 
Tome 1, Paris, 1971 

Liberman, Alexander, The Artist in 
His Studio, New York, n.d. 




Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris: Fig. zA, 
p. 38 

Bildarchiv der Nationalbibliothek, 
Vienna: Fig. 11, p. 34 

Louis Carre et Cie: Fig. iz, p. 35 

Courtesy Cinematheque francaise, Paris: 
Fig. z, p. 51, fig. 6, p. 56, fig. 8, p. 58, 
fig. 10, p. 60, fig. 1 2, p. 6z, fig. 13, p. 63 

Geoffrey Clements, New York: Cat. 
nos. 72, 78, 109, i8z 

Courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art: 
Cat. no. 63 

Courtesy Cliche des Musees Nationaux, 
France: Cat. nos. 4, 9, 14, zo, zz, Z4, 31, 
41) 47, 49, 5°"52-> 57, 65, 66, 69, 74, 83, 
96, izo, 135, 147, 148, 156, 184, 
Fig. 7B, p. 41 

Bevan Davies: Cat. no. 101 

Courtesy Lucy Delmarle: Fig. 11, p. 313 

Jean Dubout, Paris: Cat. nos. 10, iz, 16, 
18, z8, 36, 37, 40, 54, 58, 93, 98, 107, 
no, 112, 113, 130, 157, 166 
Fig. 14, p. 65 

eeva-inkeri, New York: Cat. nos. 124, 

Photo Ellebe, Rouen: Fig. 1, p. 50, fig. 4, 


Thomas Feist: Cat. no. 5 

Courtesy Karl Flinker: Figs., pp. 136, 

Courtesy Gallien Family: Fig., p. 172 

Courtesy Lucien Goldschmidt, Inc., 
New York: Fig., p. 95 

Courtesy Mr. and Mrs. M. A. Gribin: 
Cat. nos. 137, 142 

Peter A. Juley and Son, New York: 
Cat. nos. 180, 185 

Courtesy Lilli Lonngren: Fig., p. 132 

Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum 
of Art: Cat. no. 79 

Studio Lourmel 77, Paris: Cat. no. 136 

Courtesy Andree Martinel-Kupka: 
Frontispiece, fig. 1, p. 306, figs. 2, 3, p. 
307, fig. 5, p. 308, figs. 6, 7, p. 309, figs. 
9, 10, p. 312, fig. 12, p. 314, p. 46, fig., 
p. 12, fig., p. 102, fig., p. 224, fig., 
p. 232, fig., p. 327 

Robert E. Mates: Cat. no. 140 

Robert E. Mates and Mary Donlon: 
Cat. nos. 11, 15, 21, 35, 43, 48, 56, 60, 
62, 64, 67, 68, 76, 77, 81, 84-86, 100, 
104, 106, 114, 115, 119, 129, 131, 134, 
146, 152-155, 158, 159, 161, 162, 165, 
168-170, 186 

Fig. 3, p. 17, fig. 4, p. 308, fig. 6, p. 19, 
fig. 8, p. 310, fig. 5B, p. 41, figs. 5C, 6C, 
p. 45, fig., p. Z40 

Robert E. Mates and Paul Katz: Cat. 
nos. 4Z, 116, 118, 138, 190 

Courtesy Muzeum Mesta, Prague: Fig. 
iA,p. 38 

Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, 
New York: Cat. no. 176 

Courtesy Meda Mladek: Fig. z, p. 16, 
fig. 5, p. 18, fig. 7, p. zi, figs. iA, iB, p. 
4Z, fig. zB, p. 43, fig., p. zo8, fig. 14, p. 36 

Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, 
New York: Cat. nos. Z3, 30, 3Z, 33, 45, 
53,55) 6l > 71,88-91,95 
Fig- 5, P- 55, %• 9, P- 59, fig- ", P- 61, 
fig. 3 A, p. 38, figs. 5 A, p. 39, figs. iB, 2B, 
3B, p. 40, fig. 6B, p. 41, figs. zC, 3C, p. 
44, fig. 4C, p. 45, fig., p. 119 

Andre Morain, Paris: Cat. nos. 102, 103, 

"7, 1 3 Vi 74 

Musee du Louvre: Fig. 10, p. 31 

Courtesy Musee National des 
Techniques, Paris: Fig. 7, p. 57, fig., 
p. 92, fig., p. 175 

Jifi Mucha: Fig. 14, p. 315 

Courtesy Narodni Galerie, Prague: Cat. 
nos. 1-3, 6-8, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 25-27, 
34. 38, 39. 44. 80, 82, 92, 97, 108, 121, 
125, 139, i4i) 144. i49, 164, 167, 171, 
173) 175, 179 

Fig. 1, p. 16, fig. 4, p. 18, fig. 8, p. 21, 
fig. 9a, p. z8, fig. 9b, p. 29, fig. 4A, p. 39, 
fig. 4B, p. 40, figs. 2A, 3A, p. 42, figs. 3B, 

4B, p. 43, fig. iC, p. 44, fig. 13, p. 36, 

fig., p. 169, fig., p. 298 

Photo Passet, Paris: Fig. 3, p. 52 

Courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 
Staff Photographer, A. J. Wyatt: Cat. 
no. 75 

Photo Studios Ltd., London: Cat. 
no. 127 

Courtesy P. P., Paris: Fig. 7A, p. 39, 
fig. 4A, p. 42 

Eric Pollitzer, New York: Cat. nos. 


Fotostudio Otto, Vienna: Cat. no. 70 

Courtesy Camille Renault, Paris: Cat. 
no. 123 

Courtesy Galerie Denise Rene, Paris: 
Cat. no. 94 

Rheinischer Bildarchiv, Cologne: Cat. 
no. izz 

Walter Rosenblum, New York: Cat. 
no. in 

John D. Schiff, New York: Cat. nos. 

Courtesy Mr. and Mrs. G. E. S. : Cat. 
no. 178 

Courtesy Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Randall 
Shapiro: Cat. no. 143 

Taylor and Dull, Inc., New York City: 
Fig., p. Z48 

Frank J. Thomas: Cat. no. iz6 
Sabine Weiss: Fig. 15, p. 316, fig. 16, 


Studio Lourmel 77, Paris: Cat. no. 133 

Courtesy Cliche des Musees Nationaux, 
France: Cat. nos. Z9, 46, 73 

Courtesy Galerie Karl Flinker: Cat. 

no. 17Z 

Robert E. Mates and Mary Donlon: 
Cat. nos. 59, 99, 105, 160 

Courtesy P. P., Paris: Cat. no. 150 


Kupka and Jacques Villon behind 
Kupka's house, Puteaux, c. 1952. 



3 500 copies of this catalogue, de- 
signed by Malcolm Grear Designers, 
typeset by Dumar Typesetting, Inc. 
have been printed by The Meriden 
Gravure Company in October 1975 
for the Trustees of The Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Foundation. 

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